One of the common questions asked concerning immigration is “How to be a US Citizen?” There are a number of ways to get US citizenship.
One is if you are born in the United States, then you are a born American citizen. Another way to become US citizens is through naturalization. But first, you need to go through the immigration process and get lawful permanent residence status, which we usually know as a green card. After five years of being a lawful permanent resident, you can apply to become naturalized to become US citizens.
Getting a certificate of citizenship is part of immigration law that can be quite confusing which is why you need an experienced immigration lawyer to help you.
Today, we will be sharing information on who can and cannot get the certificate of citizenship, filing instructions, required documents, and some common questions when completing form N-600.
Am I Eligible to Become a US Citizen?
Applying for US citizenship entails filing a form called Form N-600, formally known as “Application for Certificate of Citizenship”. It’s a government form you will need if you were born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent or parents, and you need proof of your U.S. citizenship. It proves to the government that you are a U.S. citizen, even though you were not born in the United States. Generally, you may obtain citizenship through your U.S. citizen parents when you are born, or after your birth but before you turn 18.
Your eligibility to become a U.S. citizen at birth or after birth depends on a number of factors, including
- Your date of birth;
- The citizenship and marital status of your parents;
- Your parents’ physical presence and residence in the United States before your child’s birth
- Whether you were born in or out of wedlock;
- Whether you were legitimated by the parent under the applicable laws; and
- Whether you were legally adopted.
Why do I need to get a Certificate of Citizenship?
The Certificate of Citizenship is particularly useful if you need to obtain a U.S. passport or apply for immigration benefits for your spouse or family.
- The Certificate of Citizenship is meant for a child born outside the United States to a biological or adoptive parent or parents that are U.S. citizens. This is called “Acquisition”.
- It can also to the child of parents who are green card holders and the parents became US citizens through naturalization. This category is called “Derivation”
In both instances, the child must be under age 18 and be currently residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
Who is not allowed to file Form N-600?
You cannot file form N-600 if:
- You were born in the United States. Why? There is no need to do so because your U.S. birth certificate is already your proof of citizenship.
- If you became a naturalized U.S. citizen. In this case, your Certificate of Naturalization is proof of your U.S. citizenship.
- You are currently abroad. For this, you should seek evidence of citizenship through a passport application to the U.S. green card State Department.
- The Form N-600 will also not apply to green card holders who are planning to naturalize. You should just file Form N-400 (officially called the “Application for Naturalization)
What are the requirements for my N-600 application?
Now that we have discussed who can apply for N-600, let us now talk about the technical requirements. If you are eligible based on what we have identified earlier, what are the requirements? Let us go through them one by one by answering the following questions:
- How much does it cost to file? It will cost you $1,170 unless you are a member or veteran of the U.S. armed forces. In which case, you can apply for free.
- How long does it take to process my Form N-600 application? It really depends on which USCIS field office is handling your application. The USCIS generally processes cases in the order they receive them. Some USCIS offices can finish as early as three months, others can take as long as 21 months. The timeline varies and can be checked through the USCIS page, which is updated monthly.
- What are the documents required for my N-600 application? The USCIS asks for supporting documents for most applications. They show that you are eligible for the benefits that the application would give you.
As discussed, the application for citizenship has many eligibility requirements. It is understandable that the USCIS asks for extensive documentation. The list includes some requirements and documents that you may be asked to show the USCIS. If you are applying, you should look at the filing instructions closely to find the documents that would best apply to your situation. You will be required to present:
- Your birth certificate
- Your parent’s birth certificate
- Proof of your parent’s U.S. citizenship
- Parents’ marriage certificate (and divorce documents if applicable)
- Children born out of wedlock may need to show legitimation
- Proof of custody (for children of divorced couples)
- Permanent residency card
- Proof of the parent’s physical residence in the United States (The parent has to have lived in the U.S. for at least one continuous year in the U.S. prior to your birth)
- Adoption decree
- Records of legal name changes (if necessary)
You must remember that documents in languages other than English will need to be translated. Translated documents need to include copies of the original document, the translation and an affidavit from the translator attesting to the translation’s accuracy.
- Where can I send my N-600 application? You can apply online or by paper.
- To apply online, you just need to create an account at the USCIS website, submit supporting documents, and pay electronically. You will receive status updates and the USCIS will directly communicate with you if they request for more evidence.
- If you decide to file by paper, make sure to complete the form accurately and that you pay the correct filing fees. You can mail your application to USCIS using one of the mailing addresses listed on their website.
Consult a reliable immigration attorney
We hope we have been able to shed some light on the questions about getting a certificate of citizenship. If you need more information about the immigration process in general, or the pats to citizenship in particular, do not hesitate to call our law firm to talk to competent immigration attorneys. You can call us at Andres Mejer Law today if you want to discuss your case or need help on your citizenship application, or even your immigration journey, whether it is about getting a green card or applying for naturalization.