The Certificate of United States Citizenship is a document that verifies an individual’s American citizenship. It does not, however, make someone a citizen. In contrast, a Certificate of Naturalization is granted to an individual who becomes an American citizen by applying for citizenship and going through the naturalization process themselves.
What is a Certificate of US Citizenship?
A Certificate of US Citizenship is an official document granted to people born outside of the United States but who have been recognized as US citizens. It is typically granted to a person who was born abroad to parents who were already citizens or a minor child of a parent who went through the naturalization process.
Who is eligible for a Certificate of US Citizenship?
Only citizens who received their US citizenship status either through acquisition or by derivation are eligible to receive this certificate:
- Acquired Citizenship is when a child of a US citizen born in a foreign country is granted citizenship.
- Derivative Citizenship is the process by which someone becomes a citizen of the US when their parents acquire citizenship or when a US citizen becomes their parent through adoption.
Since a Certificate of US Citizenship only confirms a person’s citizenship status, it is only awarded to persons who are already citizens. A person born in the United States does not need a certificate to prove their citizenship since their United States birth certificate serves as proof of citizenship. A Certificate of Naturalization is awarded to a person when they successfully complete the naturalization process and are sworn in during a court ceremony.
Certificate of Citizenship initial application
When applying for a Certificate of US Citizenship, candidates must complete and send Form N-600 with the associated filing fee along with some additional information. For the initial application, applicants are required to send in two 2-inch-by-2-inch passport-style photos, their birth certificate or record, and evidence of their parent’s US citizenship. The US citizen parent’s birth certificate may also need to be submitted, and depending on the individual’s circumstances, they may also need to submit a marriage certificate, proof of physical custody, and the final adoption decree if applicable.
Once all the documents are sent, an immigration officer will determine if an in-person interview is required. If not, USCIS will provide a 13-character identification number which can be used to track the status of the application on the USCIS Case Status Online page.
In cases where an individual’s Certificate of Citizenship is lost, stolen, or becomes too damaged to read, they can apply for a new one by filing an N-565 form. Additionally, if the person’s legal name or gender has changed, or if there are typos, they can also obtain a new Certificate of Citizenship.