United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) charges $725 to process an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400). USCIS waives the fee for applicants whose income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines and reduces the fee for applicants whose income is between 151% and 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
However, some applicants who qualify for the reduced fee and other applicants who are required to pay the full fee still have difficulty paying for their application. As a result, they often delay applying for naturalization even when they are eligible and prepared for their interview.
Scholarship Eligibility and Requirements
To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants’ gross household income must fall in one of the following two categories:
- 151 – 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: $200 scholarship
- 201 – 250% of Federal Poverty Guidelines: $360 scholarship
NOTE: Recipients making between 151-200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines get additional funding (in the form of a reduced fee), so they receive more support in total. They would pay $205 for the application with the fee reduction and this scholarship, while recipients making between 201-250% do not get a reduced fee and would pay $365.
Income and Residency
- Applicants’ household income will be determined based on adjusted gross income, as reported in the most recent tax year’s income tax filing.
- Applicants must live in Arlington and demonstrate proof of Arlington residency. They may provide a valid Department of Motor Vehicles identification with their current address, a current lease in their name, or a recent utility bill in their name.
- Applicants must demonstrate that they meet the USCIS English language proficiency guidelines in the areas of speaking, reading, and writing. Community Outreach Program staff will engage applicants in conversation in English, ask applicants several of the biographical questions from their N-400, and ask applicants to read and write a sentence in English. Applicants will be given three chances to satisfactorily read and write a sentence, as in the naturalization interview.
- Applicants who qualify to take the interview in their native language, based on the number of years they have been a permanent resident and their age, will not need to demonstrate that they meet the USCIS English language proficiency guidelines.
- Applicants who are applying for an exception to the English and civics naturalization requirements due to a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment must bring a completed N-648 Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions to their scholarship application interview. If an applicant’s medical practitioner indicates that a disability or impairment prevents him or her from learning English, the applicant will not need to demonstrate that he or she meets the USCIS English language proficiency guidelines.
- To be considered for a scholarship, applicants must complete the N-400 as well as any other USCIS forms applicable to their case (i.e. N-648, Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions; I-942, Request for a Reduced Fee, etc.).
- Applicants will also be asked to provide their household’s most recent tax year income tax filing and documentation verifying their address.
Interested scholarship applicants must call (703) 228-1198 to make an appointment and meet in person with the designated DHS Human Services Specialist at the Arlington Mill Community Outreach Program location. After providing all of the requested forms and information, the DHS Specialist will determine whether the applicant has met the requirements detailed above. Applications will not be considered until all supporting documents have been submitted.
Applicants will be notified by phone about the status of their application within two weeks after they have been interviewed. Interviews will be held on a rolling basis, and scholarships will be awarded until the grant has been fully expended.
Upon approval for a scholarship, applicants will receive a check from the Department of Human Services, made out to USCIS. Scholarship recipients will be asked to pick up their scholarship check in person at the Arlington Mill Community Outreach Program, where they will sign confirming receipt of their check. Applicants will be responsible for providing another check or money order for the remaining portion of the filing fee and mailing both checks to USCIS along with their naturalization application.
The Community Outreach Program will stay in contact with scholarship recipients throughout the naturalization process, encouraging them to attend citizenship classes and connecting them with other resources as appropriate. Scholarship recipients will be asked to follow up after their naturalization interview to confirm whether they passed. Community Outreach Program staff will update the recipient’s electronic record to include the outcome of the interview.