There are many ways to become a U.S. Citizen, but Citizenship by Naturalization is the most common way to apply for U.S. citizenship. The Naturalization application costs $725 in 2020. Two separate fees make up this larger fee: a $640 filing fee for the required Form N-400, and $85 for the biometrics appointment. These fees will be increasing significantly soon.
Some people do not have to pay these fees with their naturalization application, but most do. If you are a Green Card holder who wants to apply for Citizenship by Naturalization, you can either pay these fees online or by mail, depending on how you file your application. This article explains all that you need to know about the Citizenship by Naturalization filing fees.
What are the Citizenship by Naturalization fees?
As of 10/14/2020, $725 is the current fee to become a U.S. citizen. This total includes a $640 fee for processing the Form N-400 and an $85 biometric services fee. Both the filing fee and the biometrics fee are non-refundable. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will not return this money to you even if they deny your application.
If you cannot afford the $725 fee, it is possible to ask USCIS for either a fee waiver or fee reduction. Check out our detailed guide to to learn some tips to help you afford USCIS filing fees, or read on to learn about fee waivers and reductions in more detail.
Under a new Trump administration final rule, these fees were scheduled to increase significantly on October 2, 2020. A federal judge blocked the increase, but it will likely go into effect soon. The goal of the fee increase is to help reduce USCIS’ revenue losses and budget shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The new fees, which USCIS’ deputy director described as “overdue adjustments”, will help USCIS continue to run the nation’s lawful immigration system and process legal immigration petitions even during the covid-19 pandemic. The new CItizenship by Naturalization filing fee will be $1170 and for the first time, you will not be able to waive it or get a reduced fee. We encourage low-income immigrants to submit their immigration applications ASAP to take advantage of the current naturalization fee and fee waiver process before these changes take effect.
There are many advantages of becoming a U.S. citizen. Once you do, you will be able to help your family members get Green Cards, vote in American elections, and you will never need to renew your status again. If you have been thinking about becoming a Citizen and are eligible to do so, now is a great time to apply - before the fees increase.
We can help you prepare your application for U.S. Citizenship through Naturalization together for free with our simple web application.
What is Form N-400?
Form N-400 is the “Application for Naturalization.” The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires any lawful permanent residents filing an adjustment of status to submit this form to the U.S. government as part of the application for American citizenship. Asylum seekers and DACA recipients are not eligible to file this form.
If you would like to learn more about how to complete Form N-400 and the Naturalization application process in general, you can check out our citizenship by Naturalization filing guide.
We can also help you determine if you qualify to apply for U.S. Citizenship by Naturalization when you answer a few questions on our simple web app.
How much do I actually have to pay to become a U.S. Citizen?
As of 10/14/2020, the total cost to file a United States Citizenship by Naturalization application is $725, $640 for processing your application, and $85 for biometric services. You cannot get a refund on either of these fees. However, some applicants may not pay the full government fees for the naturalization process, depending on their background. Here’s a summary of who has to pay which fees when they apply for Citizenship by Naturalization:
Remember that the $85 biometrics fee and the $640 application processing fee are separate from any legal fees that a lawyer may charge to help with your application. The $725 only covers the USCIS cost of processing your application and biometrics and nothing else. USCIS is also introducing new fees beginning October 2, 2020. When this happens, the cost of applying for Citizenship by Naturalization will shoot up to $1170. To make matters worse, USCIS will no longer offer fee waivers or reductions on this application. If you apply after the current fees change, you will be stuck paying these higher rates plus whatever a lawyer charges you. Many lawyers charge over $1,500 to help with a CItizenship by Naturalization application, so your Citizenship application process could be quite expensive.
If these fees seem scary, don’t worry - we’ve got your back! We can help you confidently prepare and file your Citizenship by Naturalization application for free with our simple web application.
You can also check out our citizenship by naturalization filing guide to learn more about the application process. It contains everything you need to know to file on your own without the high cost of an attorney.
How do I pay the citizenship application fees?
You can pay the Citizenship by Naturalization application fees with a credit card, check or money order. USCIS will not accept cash. You must submit fee payment together with your Form N-400 when you file.
You must stick to only one payment method for both the filing fee and the biometrics fee. For example, you cannot choose to pay the filing fees with the credit card and the biometrics fee with a check. The payment method you use must be the same for both.
If you are paying for multiple Citizenship by Naturalization applications at once, you must only use one payment method for all of the applications. For instance, if you are submitting applications for your parent and spouse, you must stick to the same payment method for both of them.
Be sure to include the exact amount due when you are making the fee payment. If you include less than or more than the required amount, USCIS will reject your application.
The way that you pay the filing and biometrics fees depends on whether you are filing your application from inside or outside of the U.S.
How to pay if you live inside the United States
If you live in the United States and choose to submit the Form N-400 online, you can make the required payment in your USCIS online account.
If you choose to submit Form N-400 through the mail, you can make your payment with a credit card, a check, or a money order. Checks must be made out to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
You must make any check or money order to the order of "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" and NOT “DHS”, “USDHS” or any of its shortened forms. If you don’t have “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” written exactly on your check or money order, USCIS will not “receive” your payment and will not process your application until you send a new payment made out correctly.
To pay with a credit card, you must complete Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, and submit it with your N-400. Be sure to authorize USCIS to charge you for all of the necessary filing and biometrics fees when you fill out this form. You can read more about payment instructions on USCIS’ website.
How to pay if you live outside of the United States
If you are submitting your citizenship application from outside the U.S., you can pay with a money order, personal check, or cashier's check. However, you must reach out to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to find out where exactly to send your payment. If you choose to submit the Form N-400 online, you can make the required payment in your USCIS online account. To pay with a credit card, you must complete Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, and submit it with your N-400.
To learn more about U.S. Citizenship application fees and the general application process, check out our comprehensive Citizenship by Naturalization filing guide. If you would like expert help with your application, we've got you! We can help you prepare and file your Citizenship by Naturalization application for free.
What if I can’t afford the citizenship application fees?
Naturalized Citizens enjoy many immigration benefits, but becoming a citizen through Naturalization can be expensive. Don't worry, though - there are several things you can do to help you afford your citizenship filing fees. Check out the seven options below for a few examples.
Apply for a fee waiver
If you are a lower-income applicant, a fee waiver from USCIS may be an option for you. If you are approved for a USCIS fee waiver, you will pay $0 in application fees.
Ask organizations for help with your filing fees
If you belong to a church or other faith group, it could be useful to ask them for help in paying your fees. Many are often happy to help. There are also a number of government-funded organizations that help immigrants handle the costs of immigration. USCIS has a full list of organizations that help immigrants on their website.
Ask friends and family for help with your filing fees
Your friends and family are a front-seat audience for how immigration affects your life. You could benefit from asking for their financial support in paying your filing fees. Having this as a request on a birthday wishlist or something similar is a creative example of how you could go about asking for help.
Crowdfund your filing fees
Crowdfunding sites are increasingly popular and for good reason. Although it might feel a bit awkward at first, many immigrants successfully crowdfund their applications - and you can follow their lead! You can start a crowdfunding campaign for free on a site like GoFundMe. Through the campaign, you can share your immigration story with both friends and family, as well as people outside your immediate network.
Pay your filing fees with a credit card
Consider using a credit card to pay for your filing fees if you do not have the money currently, but expect to have it in the near future. All you will need to do is complete Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions and submit it with the rest of your application.
Work with a Legal Aid office
If you want to work with a lawyer to file your application, you may be able to save on legal fees if you contact a Legal Aid office. Legal Aid offices have expert immigration lawyers who charge a very low cost, or no cost at all, to help immigrants who can’t afford an attorney.
Prepare your forms without a lawyer to save on legal fees
Although immigration forms can be intimidating it is definitely possible to prepare your forms without a lawyer’s help. If you need a little help, we’ve got your back! Our team of immigration experts can help you prepare your forms for free.
No matter how you choose to pay your application fees, we can help you confidently prepare and file your paperwork with our free web application.
We hope that you found our guide to the cost of applying for U.S. Citizenship helpful. Applying for U.S. Citizenship can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your Citizenship case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!