How Much Does it Cost to Become an American Citizen?

Written by: Staff

Becoming an American citizen is a naturalization process that individuals of different nationality undergo if they want to become an American citizen.

The process to become an American citizen can be divided into five steps.  This process includes the submission of an application, fingerprints, attending the interview, taking tests, and taking the oath to become a US citizen.  The person who would like to become an American citizen needs to establish residence in America for at least three years at a minimum.

The cost to become an American citizen is only offered by the INS, and therefore, the only price difference would be due to the added costs involved when applying for the citizenship.

American Flag, by JeepersMedia, on Flickr
American Flag,” (CC BY 2.0) by JeepersMedia

How much does it cost to become an American citizen?

On average, the price for becoming an American citizen is about $725 for just the filing fee for Form N-400. This is going to include a filing fee and the fingerprinting/background check (biometric service) fee.  For more information, you can get a form through the USCIS.

If you were to a need an immigration lawyer, though, the costs could soar into the $5,000 to $10,000 range.  ABC News noted it wasn’t uncommon to see fees in the $15,000 range.  However, as long as you have a straightforward case, you usually won’t need a lawyer.  Instead, those who opt not to use a lawyer can use online do-it-yourself kits that help you avoid the common rejection errors.

If an attorney is involved in the process, which is quite common, the cost to become a United States Citizen can vary anywhere from $900 to more than $10,000 for those with complex cases.

How to become a U.S. citizen

The first thing you have to ask yourself if you have a green card.  With very few exceptions, you may have a green card in hand before you’re even considered for citizenship.  Aside from a green card, you must spend a certain amount of time in the United States, have a good moral character, pass a basic test in English and U.S. History.

If eligible, you will need to file the N-400 form, the form we talked about above.  With this form, you will pay the fee and will have to attach a copy of your green card.  Once accepted, you will be mailed a date for your fingerprinting session.

Next, you will need to get fingerprinted at a local office, where they will be run through the FBI to check your background.

If your fingerprints clear, you will then have to attend a citizenship interview with an UCSIC officer.  During this time, you will go through your N-400 application and confirm the answers to your questions.  He or she will also test your English and U.S. history knowledge as well.

Lastly, if all the prior steps go according to plan, you will then attend an oath ceremony, where you and others who went through the same process will be declared United States citizens.  Here, you will swear your loyalty to the United States and you will be handed a certificate of naturalization.

What are the extra costs?

An immigration attorney may be needed if you don’t display good moral character, which oftentimes means you have a criminal background.  Depending on the severity of the crime, an immigration lawyer may be able to help expedite the process and get you approved.

Tips to know

The biometrics test won’t be required if you’re older than 75.

How long does it take to become a U.S. citizen?  According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the time it takes can vary greatly depending on the individual’s circumstances. After the form is filed, according to USCIS.gove, can take six months; however, this doesn’t take into effect the time you have to live in the United States to be eligible.

How can I save money?

To save money in applying for American citizenship, you can seek the aid of legal attorneys to increase the approval rate of your application.  While an attorney will cost more money up front, your chances of becoming a citizen will greatly increase if you seek the help of a professional.

You don’t have to pay the fee in cash like in the past because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now accept credit cards.  However, if you were to pay by credit card, you will have to submit another form — Form G-1450.

According to, applying for citizenship is a lot cheaper than renewing your green card.  The website notes the average 30-year-old permanent resident can pay close to $44,28 over their lifetime when factoring in all renewal fees.

Since some applicants can’t afford the filing fee, the USCIS has a fee waiver process for those who qualify.  If you, your spouse or the head of the household are receiving government benefits, you may qualify, for instance.  Also, if your household income is less than 150 percent when you file, you may be eligible as well.

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