Citizenship process and requirements

Can Washington New Americans help me complete my citizenship application?

Yes! Our program offers free legal assistance to Legal Permanent Residents (“green card” holders) interested in pursuing citizenship.  If you would like help preparing your citizenship application (N-400), please find a service provider near you, check if we have an upcoming free clinic in your area, or call 1.877.WA.NEWCITIZEN (1.877.926.3924) today.

I don’t know if I am eligible for citizenship.  Could you help?

For eligibility information, please consult our Citizenship Process and Requirements page or call us at 1.877.WA.NEWCITIZEN (1.877.926.3924).  We provide FREE eligibility assessments at Citizenship Day and through our partners across Washington. Or, ask us a question directly.

Why should I naturalize?

There are many benefits to naturalization, including attaining the right to vote, automatically securing citizenship for your young children (under 18), being able to travel on a U.S. passport, and not having to file immigration paperwork again!

Who is eligible for naturalization?

See our Citizenship Process and Requirements page for information on this topic. For a FREE consultation and eligibility verification, please call 1.877.WA.NEWCITIZEN (1.877.926.3924) or ask us a question.

Is fluency in English required?

Fluency is not required, but conversational English skills are necessary. During the interview, you will be asked questions about your application and need to answer in English. Also, the interviewer will ask questions about US history, government, and civics in English. There is an exception to the English test if you are either:

  • 50 years old and have had your green card for 20 years, or
  • 55 years old and have had your green card for 15 years

In this case, you can take the citizenship exam in your native language. However, you should bring an interpreter (not a family member) to the interview.

What is the citizenship exam like?

The citizenship exam will test your English abilities and knowledge of US history and government. The skills tested during the English portion include:

Reading You will be asked to read a sentence in English. You will be given three chances and you must get one right.

Writing You will be asked to write a sentence in English. You will be given three chances and you must get one right.

Speaking The USCIS officer will test your English speaking ability when you answer questions about yourself and your application during your interview.

U.S. civics Lastly, you will be asked to orally answer 10 civics questions to test your understanding of US history and government. To pass, you must answer six out of 10 questions correctly.

When did my time as a Permanent Resident start?

Your permanent residency starts on the date you were granted permanent resident status. This date is indicated on your Permanent Resident Card or “Green Card.”

What form is used to apply for citizenship?

Use form N-400, “Application for Naturalization”. Additionally, you may call USCIS at 1-800-870-3676 to request the form.

Where is the local US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office?

In Washington, USCIS runs Field Offices in Seattle, Spokane, and Yakima. Find addresses and further information for USCIS Field Offices.

What is the fee for processing an application?

Currently, USCIS charges a processing fee of $640 for naturalization applications. Applicants under the age of 75 must also pay a biometrics fee of $85, for a total cost of $725. If you receive public benefits or if your income is very low, you may qualify to apply for free, or for a discounted rate of $405, but you must apply for a fee waiver and show proof of your inability to pay. Find more information about fee waivers. Washington New Americans provides naturalization advice and application preparation help FREE of charge.

How long does the naturalization process take on average?

Processing times vary by location. In Washington, the process takes six to eight months on average, from the time you mail your application until you complete your interview. USCIS publishes estimated processing times.

After filing, how do I check on the status of my naturalization application?

You may check the status of your naturalization application by visiting the USCIS case status check page or by calling USCIS Customer Service at 1-800-375-5283. You may also go to your local USCIS office. You can also schedule an in-person appointment with USCIS to inquire about your case.

When I naturalize, will my children automatically become US citizens?

In 2001, a law was passed that automatically grants citizenship to unmarried children under 18 when one parent naturalizes, as long as the children have green cards and the naturalizing parent has legal and physical custody. Parents may obtain proof of their child’s citizenship by filing an N-600 form or filing for a U.S. passport.

Will I lose my birth citizenship by naturalizing?

(Information Compiled by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights)

Although many countries now accept dual citizenship, it all depends on the laws of your country. If the following list does not answer your question, please call your consulate or embassy for more information. Find the correct embassy number to call.

  • Mexican citizenship is not lost if a second nationality was acquired after March 20th of 1998. There is also a process through which individuals who lost their Mexican citizenship by becoming citizens of another state can recuperate it.
  • Polish citizenship is not lost automatically after a second citizenship is obtained; however, the individual is treated as a Polish citizen while in Poland and an American citizen while in the U.S.
  • Persons of Indian Origin of certain category who migrated from India and acquired citizenship of a foreign country other than Pakistan and Bangladesh, are eligible for grant of dual citizenship as long as their home countries allow dual citizenship in some form or the other under their local laws.
  • The Philippines now accepts dual citizenship, and as of 2003 any national who previously lost his or her citizenship is now able to apply to re-acquire it.
  • Chinese law does not accept dual citizenship—a Chinese citizen who becomes a citizen of a foreign country implicitly renounces his Chinese citizenship.
  • Because Korea has mandatory military service they do not accept dual citizenship. A Korean individual who becomes a U.S. citizen is required to renounce his Korean citizenship at a consulate office.
  • If you willingly apply for a foreign citizenship and obtain it, the German citizenship is automatically lost. If you obtain a foreign citizenship without an application for naturalization, you remain a German citizen. Loss of citizenship can be avoided by obtaining a special permit (“Beibehaltungsgenehmigung”) before you are naturalized in a foreign country.
  • Italy recognizes dual citizenship since August 15, 1992—but individuals must register new citizenship with a consulate.
  • Vietnamese law does not recognize dual citizenship; however, an individual who applies for American citizenship does not automatically loose his or her Vietnamese citizenship.
  • British law allows dual nationality.
  • The Canadian government does not consider the taking of the U.S. citizenship oath as an act of renunciation of Canadian citizenship.