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Become a Citizen

We have information for immigrants applying for United States citizenship.

Becoming a United States citizen is a very important decision. In Boston alone, 1 in 10 residents is a naturalized citizen and about 30,000 Boston residents are eligible for U.S. citizenship. The City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement encourages people to become citizens because there are several benefits, including:

  • being more active in the community
  • having the right to vote, and
  • living in the United States without risk of deportation. 

Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information or ask an attorney for legal advice.

Citizenship Day in Boston

In 2022, Citizenship Day was held on Saturday, March 26. The date has not yet been announced for 2023, but help is available all year. Call Project Citizenship at 617-694-5949 for free help with your citizenship application.

The City of Boston Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and Project Citizenship host Citizenship Day every year. The annual event is an opportunity for people who are eligible for naturalization to get free legal help with their citizenship application. It is the largest citizenship workshop in New England. Since 2014, it has served more than 2,600 people from over 50 countries and filed more than 1,200 fee waivers.

On Citizenship Day in Boston, volunteers help people fill out their citizenship application for free. Applicants still need to pay the USCIS application fee but those who are low-income may qualify for a fee waiver.

Why should I become a citizen?

U.S. citizens have several rights, including:

  • Right to Vote: Only citizens can vote in federal elections.
  • Freedom of Travel: U.S. citizens can travel outside of the country for as long and as often as they like without fear of affecting their immigration status.
  • Bring family members to the U.S.: Citizens can petition for certain family members to join them in the U.S.
  • Safety and Security: Citizens cannot be deported.
  • International Protection: The U.S. protects citizens abroad through embassies and consulates.
  • Job Opportunities: Some jobs with the U.S. federal government require U.S. citizenship.
  • Become an elected official: Only citizens can run for federal office (U.S. Senate or House of Representatives) and for most state and local offices.
  • Obtain citizenship for children under 18 years of age: Children under the age of 18 may become citizens when their parent naturalizes.
  • Become eligible for federal grants and scholarships: Many financial aid grants, including college scholarships and funds given by the government for specific purposes, are available only to U.S. citizens.
  • Serve on a jury: Only U.S. citizens can perform the civic duty of serving on a jury.

Am I eligible?

Eligibility

You must meet the following requirements to apply for citizenship:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Be a legal permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if your green card is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen)
  • Live in the U.S. for at least the past 5 years (or 3 years if your green card is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen)
  • Speak, read, and write basic English
  • Have basic understanding of U.S. history and government (civics)
  • Have good moral character (for example, pay your taxes and not be convicted of a serious crime)
English Language Exemptions

You are exempt from the English language requirement if you are:

  • at least 50 years old and have been a legal permanent resident for at least 20 years, or
  • at least 55 years old and have been a legal permanent resident for at least 15 years
Disability Accommodations

If you are unable to take the English and civics test because of a disability, you may be eligible for an exemption.

Depending on your situation, different requirements and exemptions may apply. For further information please, refer to the USCIS website.

How can I apply?

How to apply

 If you are eligible, here's how to become a U.S. citizen:

  1.  Apply for Naturalization. Fill out the N-400 application form and pay applicable fees.
  2.  Attend your biometrics appointment. During this appointment, USCIS will digitally capture your fingerprints, photograph, and signature on a live scan machine.
  3.  Attend your citizenship interview and exam. USCIS will interview you, and you will take the English and civics test.
  4.  Receive a decision on your application. You will receive a decision by mail. If approved, you will be scheduled for a naturalization ceremony.
  5. Take the Oath of Allegiance. Take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony and officially become a U.S. citizen.
  6.  Be proud of yourself and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.

What you need to apply:

  • A copy of both sides of your green card
  • Application fee payment (by check, money order, or credit card using the G-1450 form)
  • If you are married or were previously married, submit copies of the following (if applicable):
    • Marriage certificates
    • Divorce decrees
    • Annulment certificates
    • Death certificates

USCIS charges $725 to apply for citizenship, but fee waivers are available if you meet the following requirements: 

  • You or your spouse receive public benefits. These include food stamps/EBT, Medicaid (MassHealth), SSI (Supplemental Security income), TANF, and Section 8 housing.
  • Your household income is between 150% and 200% of the federal poverty level (for a reduced fee waiver) or less than 150% of the federal poverty level (for a full fee waiver). Visit the USCIS website to see if your household income qualifies for a reduced or full fee waiver.

Use this free online calculator to find out if you are eligible for a reduced or full fee waiver.

Common Questions

Common Questions

No, you do not need a lawyer to apply for U.S. citizenship. However, some people hire a lawyer or want help.

Receiving public benefits does NOT affect your eligibility to apply for citizenship. If you receive public benefits, you may actually qualify for a reduced or full application fee waiver.

During your naturalization interview, you will also take the English and civics tests.

English test:
  • The English test has three parts: reading, writing, and speaking.
  • For the reading and writing portions, you must correctly read and write one sentence.
  • For the speaking portion, a USCIS officer will ask you questions from the N-400 and assess your responses.
Civics test:
  • During the civics test, you will be asked 10 questions out of 100 possible questions on U.S. civics and history.
  • If you are 65 or older you can take a simpler test, with 10 questions drawn from a pool of only 20 questions.
  • All applicants must answer six questions correctly to pass the test.

If you fail any of the tests, you will have two more chances to take them again. You can retake the test(s) 60 to 90 days after your first test. You will only have to retake the test that you failed.

There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for citizenship. However, you must pay the application fee each time you apply.

The USCIS has a case status tool where you can check the status of your citizenship application.

Yes, there are special rules for U.S. military personnel. Check the USCIS website for more information.

You can register to vote as soon as you complete your oath ceremony and become a U.S. citizen.

You can apply to sponsor a green card for certain family members as soon as you are granted citizenship.

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