New Naturalization Form Has Substantial Changes

By Reuben S. Seguritan

March 05, 2014

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, has been revised to include more questions relating to good moral character and national security. It also has a new simplified format and uses a 2D barcode technology which will allow the USCIS to capture data more accurately. The barcode located at the bottom of each page and the additional questions account for the length of the new form.

The revised form is now 21 pages in length. The ten-page old version of the form is still being accepted. However, starting May 5, 2014, the USCIS will no longer accept previous versions of the form.

Although the new form contains additional questions and has double the number of pages, the USCIS stressed that eligibility requirements for naturalization remain the same.

Eligibility requirements are better outlined on the new form. To be eligible, an applicant must satisfy the basic requirements, namely, continuous residence as a lawful permanent resident (LPR) for five years and if married to a U.S. citizen, three years; residence in the state or USCIS district claimed as residence for at least three months prior to filing; physical presence for a specified period of time; good moral character; attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution; basic knowledge of U.S. history and government; and ability to read, write and speak basic English.

A question relating to English language test exemptions was added to the revised form. It specifically enumerates those who are eligible based on age and residency of the applicant. Those who are exempted from taking the English language test will still have to take the civics test. But if the applicant is 65 years old and has been living in the U.S. as a permanent resident for 20 years, he will take a simplified form version of the civics test.

Also, a section about the applicant’s parents is also added to determine whether the applicant is eligible for citizenship through derivation or naturalization. If the USCIS finds that an applicant acquired citizenship through his parents, the applicant does not need to undergo the naturalization process. In this case, the applicant is issued a Certificate of Citizenship.

Questions relating to national security have been added to conform with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 and the Child Soldier Accountability Act of 2008.

The sections on employment and education history were revised to make the form more user-friendly. Also, the new form only requires the applicant to list trips outside the U.S which were made in the last 5 years. The previous version requires all trips made outside the U.S. since becoming a lawful permanent resident.

The USCIS revised the preparer’s statement to make sure that all parties especially the applicant “understands the form’s information requests and that his responses were communicated as completely as possible.” The interpreter’s statement has also been revised. A section on renunciation of foreign titles is also added to the new form. Additional questions on membership in the U.S. Armed Forces are likewise incorporated.

When data is entered on the form electronically the 2D barcode located at the bottom of each page changes. The USCIS scans the barcode and the customized information will be directly uploaded in their system. This allows the USCIS to process the data more efficiently and accurately. An application form with a damaged barcode or which was not completed electronically will still be processed.