On February 4 of this year, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) released an updated and revised Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. This form is one of many that is used to apply for U.S. citizenship. Government forms get updated on a regular basis, but this an important one! I wanted to take some time today to discuss these latest revisions.
To begin with, please realize that starting May 5, 2014, USCIS will no longer accept older versions of Form N-400. If you attempt to submit a prior version, USCIS will reject the application and return the application to you.
Next, this revision was based, in part on the recent USCIS Form Improvements Initiative. This program is meant to:
- Allow for more forms to be filled out and submitted online;
- Create a more user-friendly look and feel;
- Create a more centralized filing system; and
- Implement new data collection technologies.
USCIS credits individuals who had submitted comments through the Federal Register with helping to update Form N-400. USCIS stated that it hopes applicants notice clearer instructions incorporated in the form. In addition, USCIS has implemented new technology and additional tools to aid in “important eligibility determinations.” Keep in mind that the form itself has changed, but the eligibility requirements related to naturalization have not been altered.
Specifically, the new Form N-400 now includes the following:
- Additional questions to conform with the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act (IRTPA) of 2004 and Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2008. By receiving further information related to these Acts, USCIS is able to make a more informed decision about an applicant's eligibility for citizenship. In general, these newly included questions refer to the applicant's good moral character as well as issues concerning U.S. security.
- Clearer and more complete instructions as to general eligibility requirements are included on the form. Now, there are detailed instructions available to the applicant before he or she begins each section.
- 2D barcode technology is now placed at the bottom of each page. This bar code “enhances USCIS's ability to more efficiently scan data for direct input to USCIS systems.” With this implementation, there will be better data quality, more efficient processing, and more consistency throughout the entire naturalization process.
USCIS now encourages applicants to access the revised form here. Once accessed on the site, the applicant is able to fill the form out online, print it, sign it, and then mail it to USCIS. The updated form is also available by to be sent to the applicant by mail and that information can be found here.
More information about the revised Form N-400 is expected to be announced in the next few weeks. Please continue to check my blog for any pertinent updates. In the meantime, do you think that these updates and revisions will help with the naturalization process as a whole? It seems that in many cases, when a government agency tries to demystify a process, it ends up making it more difficult or confusing. What are your thoughts?