In general, U.S. citizenship is typically granted in one of two ways: either by birth or through a process known as “naturalization.” Regardless of whether you were born in the United States or became a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process, there are certain times wherein you will need to provide proof of your U.S. citizenship. Examples include when voting or registering to vote in an election in the United States.
You may also need to show proof that you are a U.S. citizen when you are traveling abroad and need to re-enter the country or if you are applying for or renewing government-issued benefits. In some instances, a person may even be required to show proof of U.S. citizenship when applying for U.S. jobs or accepting a job to work in the U.S.
As such, it is very important that you know how to apply for and obtain a form of proof of U.S. Citizenship. In some cases, you may be required to get a specific kind of proof of U.S. Citizenship. Therefore, you should also know the differences between the sorts of documents that can serve as proof of your status as a U.S. citizen.
Finally, if you do not know the difference between such documents or if you need assistance, you should contact an immigration law attorney immediately for further legal guidance.
What Types of Documents Can Serve as Proof of U.S. Citizenship?
There are a number of documents that a person can apply for in order to demonstrate proof of U.S. citizenship. The most common of these documents is a U.S. birth certificate. Birth certificates are typically issued to persons who are born in the United States or abroad in a territory that is considered part of the U.S. Birth certificates are very important for U.S. born children since they serve as a primary form of proof of U.S. citizenship.
It should be noted, however, that in this context a birth certificate does not refer to the document that is given to infants by the hospital in which they were born. Instead, a birth certificate in this case means a standard certificate that is issued by the U.S. federal government. Some other forms of documents that can serve as proof of U.S. Citizenship may include:
- U.S. passports: A valid U.S. passport is commonly shown in order to show proof of U.S. citizenship. A person may apply for a U.S. passport through the standard channels if they are a U.S. citizen or through a U.S. consular office that is stationed in another country. When applying for a U.S. passport, a person will often need to supply additional evidence, such as proof that their parents are citizens of the United States.
- Certificates of citizenship: A Certificate of Citizenship is normally issued by a federal agency known as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). Such documents are given to persons who are granted the right of U.S. citizenship through birth overseas or derivation, with the exception of naturalization. This particular type of document can take as long as one full year to acquire.
- Certificates of naturalization: On the other hand, a Certificate of Naturalization is issued by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), which is the department that oversees the USCIS. These types of certificates provide proof that a foreign-born national has been naturalized after immigrating to the United States. As such, the document shows proof that they are now considered to be a U.S. citizen.
- Certificates of consular registration of birth abroad: U.S. citizens who are parents to a child that was born outside of the United States and its surrounding territories will typically have up to five years to register their child’s birth with a U.S. consulate. If the parents are unable to or fail to register the child before they reach five years of age, then they will not receive a Certificate of Consular Registration of Birth Abroad. As a result, they will need to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship instead.
- It is also important to note that it is extremely difficult to get a copy of a Certificate of Consular Registration of Birth Abroad if it is destroyed or lost.
In addition, the eligibility factors and filing requirements will vary based on the kind of proof of U.S. citizen document that one is trying to obtain. Therefore, a person may want to consider speaking to a local immigration law attorney if they have any questions or need advice on the various forms of proof of U.S. citizenship they should acquire.
Lastly, an individual should also consult an immigration lawyer if they require assistance with renewing or replacing such certificates.
How Long Does It Take to Obtain Proof of U.S. Citizenship?
Depending on the type of identification document that a person is attempting to obtain, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to possibly as long as up to one full year.
For instance, a U.S. passport will usually take approximately between four to six weeks to arrive. Generally speaking, U.S. passports typically have the shortest waiting and processing times. In some cases, a person may only need to wait three weeks to get a U.S passport if they ask to have the process expedited and pay for the costs associated with rushed service.
On the other hand, a Certificate of Citizenship has the longest waiting period out of all proof of U.S. citizenship documents. Contingent on the specifics of a particular application, a Certificate of Citizenship can take up to a year to process. This standard time frame may be extended if a person’s application is delayed due to errors, missing information, or falsified documents.
As for Certificates of Naturalization or Certificates of Consular Registration of Birth Abroad, these fall somewhere in between the waiting period extremes and on average may take as long as several months to be processed. This reason for this is due to the complexities of the registration process involved when requesting such documents.
Do I Need Lawyer for Assistance with U.S. Citizenship?
Obtaining valid proof of U.S. citizenship can often be a confusing and stressful process. However, it is extremely important that you have a current and valid form of identification that proves you are in fact a U.S. citizen or else you may be prohibited from participating in a number of activities, such as when registering to vote in the United States. Obtaining proof of U.S. Citizenship is especially crucial if you have only recently been granted U.S. citizenship.
Therefore, it may be in your best interest to hire a local immigration lawyer if you need assistance with applying for U.S. citizenship or obtaining valid proof that shows you are a lawful citizen of the United States. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you to collect all of the necessary documents and legal forms that are required to complete these procedures.
Your lawyer can also provide valuable legal advice on various U.S. immigration laws and can explain how these laws may affect your rights. In addition, if you need to appear before a judge or are in trouble for obtaining forged or fraudulent forms of proof for U.S. citizenship, your lawyer can recommend some legal options as to how you should proceed with the matter and will be able to provide legal representation in court.