The basic requirements for U.S. citizenship include being age 18 or older, possessing good character and having either legal residency or a military service record. You also need a knowledge of English, U.S. government and U.S. history. Unless you qualify as a member of the military, the application for naturalization form requires a filing fee. Also, most applicants must pay an additional biometric fee.
Most applicants for U.S. citizenship pay $595 when filing Form N-400, the application for naturalization. Exceptions include those who qualify as members or veterans of the armed forces. The government accepts only cashier's checks, money orders or personal checks. Make out your check to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or to Department of Homeland Security. This charge is current as of 2014.
In addition to the basic fee, applicants under 75 years of age must pay a biometric fee, which covers the cost of fingerprinting and other expenses. This fee is $85 as of 2014. Adding $85 to the filing fee, your total due comes to $680. Applicants aged 75 or older pay only the filing fee of $595.
Military Exemption for Section 328
Members of the armed forces of the United States serving in the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Marines or Air Force can qualify for a waiver of both fees. To qualify under Section 328, you must meet the usual requirements, including good character and knowledge of English and history. You must have at least one year of honorable service or reserve duty and permanent residency status. To get this exemption, file for naturalization during active service or within six months of leaving the military.
Military Exemption for Section 329
Some active duty members of the military qualify as exempt from both fees under Section 329. You must meet two requirements. First, you must serve honorably in the armed forces during a period of conflict as defined by the INA or by presidential executive order. The most recent period of conflict began on September 11, 2001, and goes to the present. It will only end upon order by the President. You can fulfill a residency requirement in one of two ways: either by becoming a legal permanent resident after joining the military, or by entering the military while in the United States or a "qualifying area."
The naturalization fees change from time to time. The current fees went into effect on November 23, 2010. To keep informed of any fee increases, use the first link in Resources to access the INS website for check filing fees. This form also gives information on other immigration fees, such as for the petition for alien relative.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Apply for U.S. Citizenship
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: N-400 Application for Naturalization
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Instructions for N-400 Application for Naturalization
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: Check Filing Fees
- U.S. Immigration: Prepare Your U.S. Citizenship Application Online