What do I need to send to the INS to complete my application for a visa or for U.S. citizenship?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 31, 2017

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You must submit the following for your visa or U.S. citizenship application:

  • The proper application for your situation. 
  • The application’s filing fee.
  • A photocopy of your green card (both sides) and two identical photographs with your “A-number” written in pencil on their backs.
  • Anything written in a foreign language (like a foreign marriage certificate) must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
  • Depending on your situation, other documents relating to: marriage, arrests or criminal charges, disability, military service, name change, or tax liability.

You can find the application, filing fee, and required documents at the USCIS website.

Whether you are applying for a visa or for naturalization, virtually every application must be accompanied by certain attachments. The documents that you are required to send will depend on your application and by your situation. Form N-400, for example, is the form required to apply for citizenship. Completion of the form is only the first step. You must also include the proper filing fee, which is currently $680.00 (2010). Most applications will also require the following to be attached:

  • A photocopy of both sides of your permanent resident card (green card); and,
  • Two identical photographs with your “A-number” written in pencil on the back of each.

Additional Documents Needed

You will be required to send additional documents depending on your personal situation. For example, if you are represented by an attorney, you will need to include Form G-28, which serves as a notice of appearance. If your application for naturalization is based on marriage, you will be required to submit documents supporting verification of your marriage, like a marriage certificate. If you have traveled outside the U.S. for a time period of six months or more preceding your application for naturalization, you should attach documents demonstrating that despite the departure, you have continued to live and work within the United States. Basically, if you have encountered any major changes or events in your life, you are probably going to be required to send additional documents to the INS. Categories of life events that usually invoke the need for additional information include: Marriage; divorce; criminal arrest, charges, or convictions; service in the military; name change; notice of delinquent tax obligations; or disability.

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English Translations

If any of the documents you submit are written in a foreign language, you must include a certified English translation of the same document. If you fail to include the certified translation, your application could be considered incomplete, thereby creating delays in your naturalization efforts.

Most citizenship applications will have a corresponding guide to walk you through the things you need to send to the INS with your application. Many applicants, though, find that having a qualified immigration law attorney assist them is most helpful in attaining their quest to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

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