An Informative Guide for Certificates of Citizenship

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When you become a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, you will need to apply for your certificate of citizenship. This can be done by filing Form N-600 to USCIS.

The full process for obtaining your certificate of citizenship will be explained in the article below in more detail, along with the uses and benefits of your certification of citizenship.

What Is a Citizenship Certificate?

If you are wondering what a certificate of citizenship is, this article is for you. A citizenship certificate is a legal document that provides proof of citizenship for someone born outside the U.S. to parents who are U.S. citizens.

However, this certificate does not grant citizenship but simply is used to be recognized and confirms that the individual on the certificate is a citizen of the country. Your citizenship certificate acts as a birth certificate and grants you the same rights as a U.S. citizen.

Who is Eligible to Apply For Certificate Of Citizenship?

You can apply for a Certificate of citizenship if :

  • If you have obtained citizenship through parent you can apply for a Certificate of citizenship. Derivation and acquisition are the two basic ways to obtain citizenship through parents.
    • Derivation of Citizenship: You can become a U.S. citizen through the process of derivation if one of your parents was a U.S. citizen by naturalization at the time of your birth.
    • Acquisition of Citizenship: If at least one of your parents was a U.S citizen at the time for your birth and you were born outside the U.S you can get citizenship through acquisition.
  • You should have at least one biological or adoptive parent who is a U.S citizen.

If you were born in the U.S., you need not apply for a certificate of citizenship. In this case, your U.S. birth certificate issued by the state government is the proof of your citizenship.

How to Obtain a U.S. Citizenship Certificate?

If you wish to apply for a citizenship certificate, this is what the process will look like.

  1. First, you must complete Form N-600, which USCIS gives out. This form can typically be submitted through the mail or online.
  2. Once you have submitted your form, you must pay filing fees to USCIS. This fee costs around $1,170 and can be made by personal check, cashier’s check, money order, or can be paid in person by cash or credit card.
  3. After you complete the first two steps, you are able to track your case online. Don’t be alarmed if you are asked to provide additional information and submit other documents.
  4. If everything checks out, your certificate of citizenship will be mailed to you.

How Does the Citizenship Certificate Look?

The most important thing that you will find on your citizenship certificate is a formal government seal and a USCIS director’s signature. Additionally, there is a load of vital information found on this as well. Some of this information includes:

  • Your specific certificate of citizenship number is typically six to eight digits long.
  • A photo
  • Your original country of birth and origin
  • The date your certificate was issued
  • The exact date you became a U.S. citizen.
  • Your full name, gender, and height
  • Your full signature

How To Find the Citizenship Certificate Number?

This vital number, which is known as a C-file number, is always printed on your citizenship certificate. You can find this number printed in red and located on the top right-hand corner of each certificate.

What Documents do you need for a Citizenship Certificate

  • Two passport size photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application.
  • Photocopy of your birth certificate.
  • If your U.S. citizen parent is applying for your citizenship certificate, you need to submit your parent’s birth certificate or any proof that your parent is a U.S. citizen.
  • If you are adopted you need to provide adoption documents.  
  • If you have legally changed your name after your birth, you need to provide proof issued and certified by the court that authorized the legal name changes.

What Are the Uses of a Citizenship Certificate?

When receiving your citizenship certificate, you are able to use this for various purposes. Generally, this certificate will be used and presented whenever you must formally prove your citizenship. Additionally, there are two other uses for this certificate. These two uses include:

  1. Obtaining a U.S. passport: Because you can use your citizenship certificate to prove you’re a legal citizen of the U.S., you can earn a U.S. passport.
  2. Sponsoring green cards for relatives: With your certificate of U.S. citizenship, you can sponsor family members and petition for them to come into the country. From here, they can become naturalized citizens.

How to Store a Citizenship Certificate

When it comes to storing your citizenship certificate, the bottom line is that this needs to be a safe place. Ultimately, you will only need your certificate to prove citizenship status or sometimes when applying for work.

Other than that, your citizen certificate should always remain stored—some common places of storage range from safety deposit boxes to safes.

Can You Replace a Citizenship Certificate?

The short answer to this question is yes; you can replace your certificate of citizenship. However, you must have an eligible reason to do so. You could seek a replacement citizenship certificate if your certificate was lost, stolen, destroyed, or damaged beyond repair.

Additionally, if you are going through gender changes, name changes, or are getting married or divorced, you will need to file for a new citizenship certificate.

So, how do you get a copy of the citizenship certificate you received? First, you will need to file Form N-565. Ultimately, this form is solely used as an application for replacement. To get your certificate of citizenship replaced, you will need the following documents:

  • Two passport-style photos
  • The original certificate of citizenship, if possible.
  • Your original documents that contain your previous name, marital status, or gender
  • A birth certificate

Once you have completed Form N-565 and submitted all the required documents, you will be able to get your certificate of citizenship replacement. The USCIS office will do this.

What Is a Certified True Copy of Citizenship Certificate?

A certified true copy of your citizenship certificate is a copy of your certificate authenticated by the U.S. State Department. Once established, this copy can be certified and used as a true legal copy of your certificate.

From here, the copy of your citizenship certificate can be used as proof of citizenship, to obtain a U.S. passport, and to sponsor family members’ green cards.

Is a Citizenship Certificate the Same as a Naturalization Certificate?

From the outside looking in, these two documents are very similar in a few ways. For starters, these documents both prove U.S. citizenship and give those who hold them the same rights as U.S. citizens.

However, these two documents have many differences. A naturalization certificate is obtained solely through the naturalization process. This process is defined as becoming a U.S. citizen by determining eligibility through close family ties, filing the necessary forms, paying the mandatory fees, passing an English and Civics exam, and then being sworn in as a citizen.

A naturalization certificate also requires you to renounce your citizenship in your country of origin, whereas a citizenship certificate does not. And a naturalization certificate has its own individual criteria that must be met.

Certificate of Citizenship FAQs

1. What if My Parents Are Divorced? Can I Still Apply for a Certificate of Citizenship?

If your parents are divorced, applying for your U.S. citizenship certificate will solely depend on the time you became a U.S. citizen. If you were legally naturalized before the divorce occurred, you could apply for the certificate.

However, if you only obtained citizenship after the divorce, you will need to submit these two documents:

  1. That shows you were in the legal custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen before your 18th birthday
  2. That shows you obtained legal U.S. citizenship before turning 18

2. Do I Need Evidence That My Citizenship Document Was Lost or Stolen?

When you are filing Form N-565, which is the application for replacement citizenship documents, and claiming damages or the loss of your certificate, you will need proof.

Some forms of proof can include:

  1. A police report: Upon losing your certificate, you must report it stolen. After doing so, the police will file a legal report, which you can then use in your replacement case.
  2. A sworn statement claiming loss: This statement is similar to an oath of testimony and will be carried out in the written form. You will need to swear under penalty of perjury that your account is truthful.

3. Is a Certificate of Citizenship the Same as a Birth Certificate?

Yes, this document can act in the same way that a birth certificate does. Furthermore, this certificate can then act as proof to obtain other forms of identification.

4. How Long Does It Take to Get a Certificate of Citizenship?

After filing Form N-600, which is the application for your certificate of citizenship, the timeline can vary. Generally, the N-600 processing time ranges from nine to 14 months.

In some cases, the timeline might be shorter, whereas other time frames might take longer due to the additional request of documents by USCIS.

Additional Questions?

If you are beginning the process of filing for your citizenship certificate, have questions about the required documents, or need support, look no further than ImmigrationDirect. We can answer all questions you have and walk you through this process.

The quicker you submit your application with our help, the faster you will obtain your citizenship certificate. Contact us today!

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