Swap Meet Justice – N-400 Citizenship Application Training Information

Quick links to all Swap Meet Justice training links, forms, and other resources: Here.

Learn to help fill out an N-400 Citizenship application form!

Training with pbti’s 28-minute video is easy, and quicker than any lecture we’ve ever given!

  • How to watch the video:
    • Go to https://pbtraining.org/training/ and click on this symbol for “Naturalization” courses. This section has several courses on how to help someone fill out their citizenship form, known as the N-400.
    • Choose the box that says “Naturalization – Filling out the N-400.
    • At this point, the website will ask you to set up an account, which is free and takes about 2 minutes. This will allow you to access all the videos on the site, now and in the future.
    • Now, start the video by pressing the blue “Continue Course” button at the upper right corner or watch it on youtube.
    • Ignore their quizzes. You’re done.

Now what? I’m done, but I feel like I could use some review…

  • After you watch the video:
    • We’ve reproduced the video’s slides below, along with “HOW-TO” information specific to our own fair.
    • We’ve created an interesting informational “quiz” on some of the perplexing situations you might encounter while assisting a client with their application.
    • You can download and print out your own application “cheat sheet” here.
    • This may seems like a lot to know, but don’t worry. No memorization is necessary. There are reference binders on every table, and a lot of people who’ve done this before to help with questions!
  • At the Fair
    • When you’ve finished the form with the applicant, use this worksheet to be sure you have all the necessary parts and items to be copied, and that they are arranged in the correct order.
    • For us visual learners, here’s a graphic of how an applicant goes through our fair:

Process overview, plus many clients are anxious to know how much the application will cost them.

  • Our volunteer assistance is free!
  • According to the latest information on the USCIS.gov site, the current filing fee is $640 + an additional $85 biometric fee for a total of $725 with two exceptions – No biometric fee is required if your client is over 75 or a military applicant filing under 328 or 329 of the INA.
  • Another video will explain how some people may qualify for WAIVED (I-912) OR REDUCED (I-942) fees. Filling out a I-912 fee waiver or a I-942 fee reduction app.
  • For checkwriting, we have a sheet at the front desk to give to clients here.(Filling out a check to USCIS)
  • We also hand out information on the civics exam and the English test. We want our clients to leave with all the information they need to be successful!

General form-filling information

IMPORTANT! We are community volunteers, NOT lawyers!!!!

  • If a client give you an UNEXPECTED ANSWER, or you are unsure of an answer, flag it with a post-it note and ask a lawyer over to your table to consult. Questions are encouraged!
  • A lawyer or certified professional at our fair MUST REVIEW ALL COMPLETED APPLICATION FORMS BEFORE we copy them and give them to the client to send off to the government.

We generally work in teams. One person is the “INTERVIEWER” or “INTERPRETER” asking questions, and one person is the “PREPARER” writing down all the answers in NEAT, LEGIBLE print.

    • Introduce yourself and your partner.
    • Have the client sign our waiver.
    • Ask for the client’s green card, driver’s license and social security information and hand them to your PREPARER.
    • INTERVIEWERS/INTERPRETERS use “waste” copies of the application or scrap paper to quickly write down information from the client. There are often a lot of revisions and cross-outs. Only the PREPARER writes on the real form.
    • Part 12 (pages 11-15) has a lot of RED-FLAG information. While your PREPARER is starting to put basic information into the application, both you and your client can start with partial Part 12 pages you both can write on (we have them in English and Spanish) and see if there are any problems that will stop their progress that day. If all is well, hand them to your PREPARER.
    • We have application forms in different languages to help the INTERVIEWER. There are Spanish versions at the front desk and in the table binders. Spanish and other language versions can be found here. However, only English-language versions are accepted by the USCIS.
    • This is not a race. Accuracy is more important than speed, and making clients feel comfortable and respected is our goal.
    • ONLY the PREPARER writes on the real application, except when the client signs it at the end. This keeps the application neat and professional looking.
      • Use only BLACK INK. We have pens!
      • Start by filling out the client’s “A” number on each page of the application.
      • Use ALL-CAPITALS for LAST names. PRINT NEATLY, no cursive.
      • Use small “X” marks that fit within information boxes. NO BIG CHECKMARKS OR “X”s.
      • For jobs, schools, travel, etc. – present day information goes first, working backward through 5 years. Oldest kids go first.
      • Do not squeeze in extra information. If the client has more kids, wives, jobs, addresses, etc… than lines on the application, get an addendum sheet at the front desk.
      • Make all dates mm/dd/yyyy. Example – 05/09/1997
      • If you make errors on the page, just bring that page up to the front desk, and we’ll replace it. No worries!
      • The PREPARER must fill out an English-language application.

PREPARERS – You will find the “A” number on their permanent residency (green) card. Most green cards will look like this. If it’s a lot older, and you’re not sure where the “A” number is, go here. Start filling it out on all the pages of the application when you have a free minute! It goes in the middle of the first page and on the top right corner of ALL the other pages.

PREPARERS – We have “continuation sheets” up at the front desk. Some are general, some are specific for a particular part of the application. Tell us what you’re looking for.

Before you start Page 1 – Fill out the e-notification form.

This form (G-1145) allows the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to send information to our clients by email.

Page 1 of the N-400 Citizenship application.

INTERVIEWER/PREPARERS: On part 1, our volunteers usually fill in either “A” or “B.” Please flag a lawyer for addition information if they need to check “C” thru “E.”

Page 2 – More about the applicant

Page 3 – Addresse(s) of residence

Page 4 – More addresses/Parents

Page 5 – More parents/Biographic information

Page 6 – School/Jobs

Page 7 – Travel/Marital history

Part 9 – #1-3: INTERVIEWER – Unless your client shows up with this already listed out (Yes, some do) or hasn’t left the U.S. in the last 5 years, we recommend you work this out with them on a piece of scrap paper, getting all the information in order, before handing it off to the PREPARER.

Part 10 – #3: INTERVIEWER – This question is a little confusing. If they are currently married, that counts as “1”. Then ADD ON annulments, other marriages to other people or the same person.

Page 8 – Marriages

Part 10 – #7C & #8B: INTERVIEWER – If “current immigration status” is NOT “US Citizen” or “Lawful Permanent Status,” fill in the “Other” blank with “No status” or “unknown.”

Page 9 – More marriages/Children

Part 11 – #1: INTERVIEWER – Read the entire definition of children they want counted to the client. It is far more expansive than people normally think of, as it includes deceased children as well.

Page 10 – “All my children

PREPARERS: More marriages or children than lines on the forms? We have addenda for that! Come up to the front desk.

Page 11 – Part 12 – Danger Zone!


  • This is the part we talked about at the beginning. Please make sure your client knows that they need to be completely forthcoming and honest on this section or they can lose the right to become a citizen. Lying on this application can also get them kicked out later, like those old Nazi camp guards that keep turning up.
  • If there are any questions in their minds on how to answer a question, the lawyer will come over and discuss it with them. There may not be a problem, or they might have to wait some time before applying.
  • The fastest way to get through this, if your client is a reader, is both of you have a copy in front of you, and work through it. Read each question out loud. Some questions, like “Are you a habitual drunkard?” are not clear to normal people and will need explanation.

Part 12 – #1-5: Consult the attorney is any answer is “YES.”

Page 12

  • Part 12 – #7b and 8: Consult the attorney is any answer is “YES.”
  • Part 12 – #10-13: Consult the attorney is any answer is “YES.”

Page 13

Part 12 – #14 thru 18: Consult the attorney is any answer is “YES.”

Page 14

Part 12 – #19 thru 29: Consult the attorney is ANY answer is “YES.”

(Modified from Question 14 on our quiz): ALL arrests, charges, and convictions need thorough evaluations by a lawyer, even for juvenile convictions, which may not be considered “convictions” for immigration purposes.

According to the USCIS: “Typically if an individual only has minor traffic citations with no arrests resulting (i.e. speeding tickets), they will not be required to submit any additional information with the N-400. However, if, during the course of the interview, an adjudications officer determines that there are circumstances that warrant further investigation, (e.g. there is an indication that the applicant has failed to pay fines associated with the citations), the officer may request additional documentation. (e.g. payment, certified police/court documents indicating such).” 

You must submit documentation of traffic incidents if:

  • The incident involved alcohol or drugs;
  • The incident led to an arrest; or
  • The incident seriously injured another person.

You do not need to submit documentation for traffic fines or incidents that did not involve an arrest or did not involve drugs or alcohol, if the only penalty was a fine of less than $500 or points on your driving record.”

If your only tickets were for parking violations — that is, things like staying too long at a parking meter or parking your car in a red zone — you don’t even need to mention these on Form N-400. But for any violation where you were behind the wheel, or your motor was running, your best bet is to mention it. 

What documentation needs to submitted with their N-400 form? See here.

Page 15

Part 12 – #30 thru 43: Consult the attorney is any answer is “YES.”

Page 16 – Selective Service

  • Part 12 – #44: PREPARER writes in “YES” or “NO” as to whether client is a male. If “YES“, INTERVIEWER asks client if they registered for the Selective Service.
    • “YES”: PREPARER fills in registration date and number.
    • “Not sure”/”Don’t know date or number”:
      • PREPARER can use online search – https://www.sss.gov/verify/, if client has a social security number AND is born on or after Jan. 1, 1960.
      • PREPARER can call (888) 655-1825 if client is older or has no social security number.
    • “NO”:
      • Under 26 years old: PREPARER goes to front desk and gets Selective Service application for client to fill out and mail immediately.
      • Between 26 and 31 years old: PREPARER gets “Selective Service Statement” addendum form, which is sent in with citizenship application.
      • Over 31, or 29 if applying based on marriage to US citizen – No form needed.
  • Part 12 – #45-50: These answers should all be “YES.” If they aren’t, for any reason, call over a lawyer.
  • Part 13 – #1: PREPARER fills out “A” or “B” information.
  • Part 13 – #2: PREPARER fills out name as “preparer.”

Page 17 – Sign-offs

  • PREPARER: Here you allow the client to sign and date the form. Ask if they can keep their writing inside the box, as it will be scanned.
  • Part 14 – #1: If the INTERVIEWER also acted as an interpreter, they should give the PREPARER their name to fill in.
  • Part 14 – #2: PREPARER writes in El Concilio Family Services as the interpreter’s organization
  • Part 14 – #3: PREPARER writes in 301 South “C” Street, Oxnard, CA 93030 as the interpreter’s mailing address.

Page 18

  • Part 14 – #4-6: PREPARER: If the client interview was conducted in English, Part 14 can be left blank. If it was conducted in another language, fill out as shown below.
    • Part 14 – #4 “Interpreter’s Contact Information” – Please insert (805) 486-9777. Leave #5 and #6 blank.
    • Under “Interpreter’s Certification“, write in the name of the language used.
  • Part 15 – #1-3:
    • Part 15 – #1: The PREPARER fills in their name.
    • Part 15 – #2: PREPARER writes in El Concilio Family Services as the “preparer’s organization.”
    • Part 14 – #3: PREPARER writes in 301 South “C” Street, Oxnard, CA 93030 as the “preparer’s” mailing address.

Page 19

    • Part 15 – #4:Preparer’s Contact Information” – Please insert (805) 486-9777. Leave #5 and #6 blank.
    • Part 15 – #7: As shown on this slide, on “Preparer’s Statement“, put a neat “X” on “A”.
    • Sign under “Preparer’s Signature”.

Page 20

PREPARER: Blank EXCEPT for the “A” number.

Now what?

  • There may be an additional fee waiver form to fill out if the client qualifies.
  • Then, all the forms need to be gathered together in the order shown on the Application Worksheet and taken to the Copy Table and copied to create a full set for both the USCIS and the client’s record.
  • The client is given a mailer prelabeled with the USCIS address and information on how to correctly write their check. Hardcopies at the desk or share this link.
  • The client is then offered information on how to prepare for their next steps – We have information at the front desk:
    • on where to get the biometrics done,
    • on local classes to prepare for their citizenship test,
    • copies of possible testing questions, in English or Spanish.
  • The intake and waiver forms are returned to the front desk and all scratch forms are placed in the front desk “SHRED” file.

If a client needs additional and/or more specialized services

The Law Office of Vanessa Frank – Attorney at Law/Abogada
(805) 641-9300
143 Figueroa Street
Ventura, CA 93003

El Concilio Family Services
(805) 486-9777
301 S C St, Oxnard, CA 93030

UFW Foundation
Phone: (805) 246-3867 
920 S A St, Oxnard, CA 93030

Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP)
(805) 483-1166
135 Magnolia Ave, Oxnard, CA 93030

Ventura County Legal Aid