October 25, 2021

There are several ways to become a U.S. citizen. Many individuals will apply for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. While it is a dream to become a citizen, the costs can be prohibitive. So how much does it cost to become a U.S. citizen? The fees can vary, depending on your particular circumstances. Here are a few things that you need to know about the costs to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Are you confused about applying for U.S. citizenship in Orange County or the Irvine area? At Brudner Law, we can help walk you through the complicated immigration process so that you can enjoy the benefits of American citizenship.

Typical Costs

The current fee to become a U.S. citizen is $725. That total includes a $640 fee to process Form N-400 and an $85 biometric service fee. All of these fees are non-refundable. You also need to remember that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will not return the money even if they deny your application. 

In some cases, you might not be able to afford the $725 fee. With that, you can always ask the USCIS for a fee reduction or waiver. When you become a U.S. citizen, there are many advantages. Along with that, you can help your family members obtain Green Cards, vote in American elections, and have no worries about renewing your immigration status. If you want to become a citizen, now is the best time to apply!

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get Citizenship After You Apply?

What Is Form N-400?

You have already heard the term "Form N-400." This form is also known as the Application for Naturalization. According to requirements by the Department of Homeland Security, any lawful permanent resident must submit this form as part of the American citizenship application process. DACA recipients and asylum seekers are not eligible for these forms

Becoming a U.S. Citizen

You already know that it costs about $725 to file a United States Citizen by Naturalization application. However, depending on some applicants' backgrounds, they may not have to pay a fee.

If you are a typical applicant, you can expect to pay the full price. Those who have received a USCIS fee reduction can expect their filing fee to be reduced to $320 and the $85 biometrics fee. For individuals who have been granted a fee waiver, the costs are entirely waived. Along with that, active duty or veterans of the U.S. military do not have to pay for biometrics or filing fees

You should remember that these fees are in addition to the legal fees that may be charged to your application. In some cases, it can cost over several thousand dollars to obtain American citizenship. When those additional fees are added, it can be expensive to apply for U.S. citizenship. While these fees can seem high, there are so many benefits to obtaining American citizenship. 

Related: What Are Some of the U.S. Citizen Requirements?

How Do I Pay for Citizenship Application Fees? 

There are several ways to pay for the Citizenship by Naturalization fees. You can pay with:

  • Personal check
  • Credit card
  • Money order
  • Cashier's check

Remember that the USCIS will not accept cash. Plus, you can only use one type of payment method for the filing and biometrics fee. For example, if you pay by personal check for the filing fee, you must use a check to also pay for the biometrics fee. 

If you are paying for multiple naturalization applications at the same time, you can use only one type of payment for all the applications. Once again, if you are submitting for a spouse or parent, you need to use the same type of payment. 

In addition to that, you need to include the exact amount when paying the fee. If you pay less than the required amount, USCIS can reject your application. Any check that has a higher amount than the standard fee will also be returned. The application cannot proceed until USCIS receives the right amount. 

Human Hands and Us Flag

How To Pay If You Live in the United States

If you currently reside in the United States, you can submit Form N-400 online. With that, you can just make the required payment from your USCIS online account. In addition to that, you can submit Form N-400 through the mail. In that situation, you make a payment with a money order, personal check, or credit card. All checks must be addressed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Remember not to address the check to any shortened forms of the name, such as USDHS or DHS. If that happens, USCIS will not process your application. 

For anyone who wants to pay with a credit card, Form G-1450 must be used for the transaction. This form is known as Authorization for Credit Card Transactions. You must authorize the USCIS to charge you for all the necessary fees on the form. 

How To Pay If You Live Outside of the United States

For those submitting their citizen application from outside of the United States, you can pay with a personal check, cashier's check, or money order. However, take an extra step by reaching out to the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to find out where to send your payment. You can also submit Form N-400 online, where you can also make the payment for the fees. Along with that, you need to fill out Form G-1450 for any credit card transactions. 

What If I Cannot Afford the U.S. Citizenship Application Fee?

There are many benefits to becoming a naturalized citizen, but it can be an expensive application. Don't worry; there is help! You can find help to pay the fee in several ways. Here are a few options to assist with these expensive application fees

Apply For a Fee Waiver 

For those low-income applications, you can apply for a fee waiver from the USCIS. If you are approved for the waiver, you will have to pay $0 in application fees. 

Ask Organizations To Help

If you are a part of a religious or community organization, you can always ask if they can help with your fee. Many of these organizations can help you find ways to pay for your application. Along with that, USCIS also has a list of organizations that can help immigrants to cover the costs of the fees. 

Speak To Friends and Family

While you may not want to ask your friends and family for monetary assistance, some of them may be happy to help with your fees. You can always ask for donations on your birthday wishlist as a way to help with these fees. 

Crowdfund Your Fees

Some applicants have found crowdfunding those fees to be a great alternative. Crowdfunding sites are a popular way for you to find a way to pay for those fees. You can start a crowdfunding campaign on any of these sites. Remember that many may take a percentage of your money for their own fee. Along with paying for expenses, you can share your story with friends and family. In some cases, you can reach others who may be inspired by your story and want to donate to your American Dream. 

Pay With a Credit Card

If you are having trouble paying for the filing fees, you might want to think about using your credit card. This method can help those who don't have the money right now but will get it in the future. Just complete Form G-1450 and submit it with your application. 

man looking at his social secruity

Work With a Legal Aid Office 

If you want some help to file your application, you may be able to find a reliable attorney with help from a Legal Aid office. Some offices have access to experienced immigration lawyers who charge low fees to help fill out the necessary forms for naturalization. 

However, the immigration process is complicated, and you will want to find a professional lawyer to help with your case. An immigration lawyer can prepare your forms and ensure that everything is completed so that there are no issues. 

Related: When Do You Need an Immigration Lawyer?

Final Word

The cost of applying for U.S. citizenship can be expensive and complicated. However, you will want to work with a good immigration attorney to make the process easier for you. If you can't afford those fees, there are some options for you. Everyone has the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen and achieve the American Dream. Don't let the costs deter you from starting the naturalization process. 

Are you searching for an opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship? You will want to reach out to our experienced Orange County and Irvine immigration lawyer at Brudner Law

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