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USCIS Redesigns Certificate of Naturalization

On October 25, 2010, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced that the immigration agency will begin issuing a redesigned, more secure Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550) as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system. It is expected that over 600,000 new citizens will receive the enhanced certificate over the next year.


What will this mean for current and future naturalized US citizens? Here are some questions and answers regarding the new Certificate of Naturalization.


Certificate of Naturalization

What is a Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550)?

The Certificate of Naturalization serves as evidence of your US Citizenship. You receive this document after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. This is a very important document because it serves as proof of your US Citizenship. A Certificate of Naturalization is also accepted as a valid form of identification.

Why did USCIS redesign the naturalization certificate?

Previous Certificates of Naturalization featured hard-copy photos of the naturalized US citizen. The redesigned certificate will feature the naturalized citizen´s digitized photo and signature embedded into the base document. USCIS plans to save revenue by cutting costs in man-hours and improving security by eliminating the requirement to affix the hard-copy photo and hand-stamp the USCIS director´s signature.

What is different about the new Certificate of Naturalization?

USCIS redesigned the certificate so that it is more tamper proof, using a more secure printing process and in addition, the naturalization candidate´s digitized photo and signature are embedded into the document. The background will also feature a color-shifting ink pattern that will make it difficult to reproduce.

When will USCIS issue the redesigned naturalization certificates?

USCIS will begin using the redesigned certificates at all offices beginning October 26, 2010. The first USCIS offices to begin to utilize the automated production process will be in Atlanta, Denver and Baltimore. USCIS will implement the automated production system agency-wide by the end of the calendar year.

Will all new naturalized citizens receive a redesigned certificate of naturalization with digitized photos once the USCIS the transitions to the new document?

Yes except for naturalization candidates serving the military overseas and who are homebound. This category of naturalized citizens will still receive documents with hard-copy photos affixed to their certificates.

I´ve already obtained a Certificate of Naturalization. Will I have to apply for the redesigned Certificate of Naturalization?

No. Previously issued naturalization certificates will still be valid.

Will the redesigned naturalization certificate impact the processing time of Form N400, Application for Naturalization?

The processing time for a submitted N400, Application for Naturalization, will not be affected by the introduction of the redesigned Certificate of Naturalization. USCIS Application Support Centers (ASCs) will still require that individual applicants still submit their fingerprints and two hard-copy photos. The ASCs will digitize the photograph and signature for every N-400 applicant.

Why do applicants still have to send hard-copy photos if the ASCs will capture digital photos?

The hard-copy photos will serve as back-ups in case of any unforeseen issues that may arise so that the naturalization process continues without any delays.

Will the wording on the certificate of naturalization change?

Yes. USCIS will delete language that states that a naturalized citizen resides in the United States and "intends to reside in the United States when so required by the Naturalization laws of the United States." These changes will be implemented to better reflect the current provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Will USCIS update any of its other certificates?

Yes. USCIS intends to digitize all its citizenship-related certificates. Immigration Direct will be sure to keep individuals updated when this happens.

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