How to Obtain a Certificate of US Citizenship
If you were born outside of America to US citizen parents, you can apply for a special certificate to become an official US citizen. You need to prove your parents are US citizens and fill out some forms. This article can help you with the process.8 min read
A citizenship certificate is vital if you were born outside the US to US citizen(s). It goes a long way in making you an official US citizen. To apply for one, you need to prove that your parent(S) are US citizens and fill out and submit a few official forms.
We understand that sometimes applying for a citizenship certificate can be difficult. So, we've compiled this guide to take you through the process.
Applying for a US Citizenship Certificate
If you are a US citizen and require proof, you need to get a citizenship certificate, also referred to as a naturalization certificate. Having one can impact your eligibility when applying for some vital government documents.
Although the application process is a bit long and complex, the instructions on the USCIS website should make it easier. In this article, we'll discuss why you need a certificate of citizenship and all the steps you need to follow during the application process.
What Is a Certificate of Citizenship?
A certificate of citizenship is awarded to people who were born outside the US to US citizens to prove their citizenship. However, it is not given to grant citizenship; it only recognizes and confirms their citizenship status. The applicant should have already obtained citizenship by the time they are applying for a certificate.
It comes in handy if you want to sponsor a non-citizen for their green card application and when applying for a passport. The following people can apply for a US citizenship certificate: children not born in the US to US parent(s) and people who automatically obtain citizenship for being born in the US; the latter must be under 18.
How to Request a US Citizenship Certificate
To request a US citizenship certificate, you must prove you are a US citizen. This includes providing your original documents to the USCIS, US Citizenship, and Immigration Services. Photocopies and replicas do not work. You can send a request by mail, online, or present it in person.
Some of the documents that can act as proof of US citizenship include a passport, an original US birth certificate, a naturalization certificate, and a consular report of birth abroad. If you were born in the US, you could get a copy of your birth certificate from the department of health in the state you were born in. Hospitals are required to keep copies of the birth certificates of all babies born there.
Applicants may also be required to provide additional documents such as medical records, school records, and two passport photos. A social security card, a driver's license, and a voter registration card do not act as proof of citizenship.
Replacement of Certificate of Citizenship
If you have lost your original certification of citizenship, don't worry; replacing it is fairly easy. To apply for a replacement, you need to apply to the USCIS or the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. The agency also deals with issuing and replacing other vital documents, such as green cards and certificates of neutralization.
People who want to replace their certificate of citizenship must fill out and file Form N-565 online or by mail. The form is titled 'Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document' and should only be filled out after reading the instructions for the replacement process.
USCIS only grants a replacement certificate of citizenship on the grounds that:
- An individual was granted a certificate of citizenship, and it was stolen, destroyed, mutilated, or lost.
- Someone was issued the original citizenship certificate with incorrect information due to a typographical or clerical error.
- The last name was changed by marriage, a court order, and after issuing the original certificate, the owner wants a certificate with their new name.
- If, after the certificate of citizenship was issued, they changed their date of birth and desired a certificate with their new date of birth.
- Someone was issued a certificate before they changed their gender; the change is legally recognized by court orders, medical-issued documents, and government-issued documents.
- An individual is a naturalized citizen seeking a special certificate of neutralization so that another country can officially recognize them as a US citizen.
Parts one and two of the form require individuals to fill in their personal information, including their full legal name, date of birth, country of birth and the original certificate number, and their official address. They also need to fill in why they need a replacement for the original certificate of citizenship.
Part 3 of the form requires the individual to indicate their gender, marital status, and height, while part 4 of the form requires them to indicate why it's incorrect and attach documents supporting this claim.
Parts 5, 6, and 7 inquire about information regarding the basis of the name change, date of birthdate, and the change of gender. Part 8 also requires individuals seeking a replacement certificate of neutralization to apply for a special certificate of neutralization. In part 9, the individual needs to select whether they can read and understand English and whether they have understood all the instructions in the application.
In part 10, they must fill all the questions in their desired language. Once they have filled out the form, the applicant must authorize all the information in the application form, sign their name, and enter the date.
Obtaining an Initial Citizenship Certificate
Obtaining a citizenship certificate is the first step in getting a US national identity card. Follow the following steps to obtain a citizenship certificate.
Prepare if You Are Eligible
To apply for the citizen certificate, you need to first ensure that you are eligible. Some requirements that you need to meet to be eligible include:
- Be at least 18 years old during the application process
- Have good moral character
- Ability to read, write and speak English
If you were born in the US and don't have a birth certificate, you'll need several documents to prove that you are eligible for a certificate: a letter from the viral records office proving that you were born in a US state with your name and the year you were born.
In case you were not born in the United States, and your parents did not register your birth at the US Embassy, you'll need the following:
- Your foreign birth certificate with both your parent's name
- Evidence that your parent(s) are US citizens
- Your parents' marriage certificate
- Adoption papers
If you were born outside the US, but your parents registered your birth in the US Embassy or consulate, the US Department of State (DOS) can help you get a copy of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad after filling and filing form FS-240.
Prepare Form N-600
After ensuring that you are eligible, the next step is to fill out and submit form N-600. The form is titled 'Application of Certificate of Citizenship'. You should fill out this form if you were born outside the U.S. to US citizen parents or if you automatically become a US citizen because you were born there.
The form requires you to fill in general information about yourself, including your full legal name, date of birth, official mailing address, gender, race, marital status, and height. You also need to prove that you are a US citizen and a permanent resident in one of the states.
Ensure you answer all the questions accurately; if a certain question does not apply to you, type N/A unless directed otherwise. Each application needs to be properly signed with either the signature, initials, or date. If you are under 14, your parent or legal guardian can sign the form.
Who Should Not Fill Out Form N-600?
Although the law has changed a lot over the past years, they are several people who should not fill out this application:
- People without at least one biological US citizen parent.
- If you are a child of a US citizen parent who does not reside in the U.S.
- You were born out of wedlock, and your US citizen parent is your father.
- If you had already filled out the form before and received a decision from USCIS.
- You are replacing a lost, damaged, or stolen certificate of citizenship.
Prepare Supporting Documents
When filling out Form N-600, you need to submit several official documents, such as:
- Your birth certificate
- Birth certificate or record of your US citizen parent
- Marriage certificate of your US citizen parents Documents showing termination of your U.S. citizen parents if they are divorced
- Death certificate of your US citizen parents
- Proof of Status as a US citizen
- Copy of full, final adoption papers
- Proof of physical residence in the US
- Evidence of all your legal name changes.
If a document is unavailable, you need to submit a printed explanation of the reason that the document is unavailable. You also need to submit secondary evidence that can overcome the unavailability of the required documents. Sometimes USCIS may require you to provide an original typed statement from the appropriate government or another established legal authority to support your claim.
Some secondary evidence you can submit for eligibility includes the date of birth, place of birth, baptism date, and parents' name. You can also submit your school records, census records, and an affidavit if the other secondary evidence is unavailable.
Attach the Filing Fee
After submitting the form with all your details, the next step is attaching the filing fee noted on the form. You can pay the fee either by check or mail order, which should be payable to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Ensure you check the amount payable on the form since different applications have different fees. Typically, the fee for filing the Form is &1,170.and it's non-refundable regardless of the outcome. The fee should be paid in the exact amount.
It's important to note that there is no filing fee for Form N-600 if you are a veteran or if you have a branch of the US army filling out the form on your behalf. However, direct family members of war veterans are required to pay the fee.
How To Prepare Your Check and Money Order for Form N-600
- The check or money order must be drawn through a bank in the US and should be in dollars.
- If you are applying from outside the US, contact the US Embassy or consulate on the best mode of payment.
- If you make the payment via check, the debit from your account will typically take 24 hours. USCIS will destroy your original check and keep a copy of it. If your check is returned to you a second time, your application will be rejected, and you'll be charged a return fee for your check.
Send Your Completed Application
After completing your application and attaching all the relevant documents and filing fees, the next step is to send it to the correct website or email, which should be included in the application instructions. Usually, form N-600 is submitted to the official USCIS email.
Six. Attend an Interview
The next step after sending your completed application is an interview where a USCIS officer will ask questions about your background and application to ensure your documents and application is valid. The interview typically lasts for less than 30 minutes. To qualify, you will also need to take a basic English and civic test. The English test has three basic components: reading, speaking, and writing.
What happens after the citizenship interview?
USCIS will typically notify you by mail of the location and time you can take your oath if you pass your interview. They also allow you to take an oath on the same day you pass your interview when applying for naturalization.
Does the US allow dual citizenship?
Yes, you can be a citizen of another country while applying for a US citizenship certificate. However, it does not require you to be a citizen of another country to qualify.
How long does it take to get a citizenship certificate?
After filling out form N-600 and getting an interview with USCIS, it will typically take around 9 to 14 months. It might take a longer time for most people than others, and the USCIS can request an additional interview for additional information if your application needs to be clarified.
What Can You Do With Your Certificate of Citizenship?
You can use your citizenship certificate to apply for certain benefits and documents such as Social Security information, driver's license, learning permit, and financial aid. The certificate can also be used when your birth certificate is not applicable, such as when crossing the US border. It also gives an individual more reassurance of citizenship than a US passport since it does not expire. Get in touch.