In general, naturalization is a legal process by which a foreign-born national can formally obtain citizenship in the United States. A foreign-born national will need to complete all of the necessary steps of the naturalization process, which includes swearing an oath of allegiance to the United States, before they can officially be granted the status of a U.S. citizen.
A person who becomes a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization will be able to enjoy nearly all of the same legal rights and privileges as those of citizens who were originally born in the United States. This may include the right to vote in U.S. elections, apply for a U.S. passport, and to enlist in the U.S. military.
It should be noted, however, that you will also be expected to fulfill the same obligations as U.S. citizens once you obtain U.S. citizenship like paying taxes and serving on a jury panel if necessary.
There are a vast number of requirements, such as applications, interviews, and tests, that must be met to complete the naturalization process. Oftentimes, these requirements will vary based on an individual applicant’s circumstances, background information, and age. Thus, it is very important for a foreign-born national that is seeking to apply for naturalization consult with a local immigration law attorney for further legal guidance regarding this process.
What Is a “Certificate of Naturalization”?
A Certificate of Naturalization is a document that is issued to foreign-born nationals to serve as proof that they have become a U.S. citizen by applying for U.S. citizenship through the process of naturalization. In other words, a Certificate of Naturalization is only granted to those who achieved U.S. citizenship status in some other manner than being born as a U.S. citizen.
In order to obtain a Certificate of Naturalization, a person must apply to become a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization, but only after they have been granted lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. and were a green card holder for at least five years. A person cannot apply for or obtain a Certificate of Naturalization without complying with the proper legal procedures first.
How Do I Apply for a Certificate of Naturalization?
In order to initiate the process of naturalization, a lawful permanent resident will need to proceed to the website for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) agency and download a copy of the Form N-400, “Application for Naturalization Document.” Form N-400 must be filled out and submitted back to the USCIS by the applicant. The applicant will also be required to pay the $595 filing fee at the time they submit their application.
In addition, there may be other government or processing fees that an applicant will be required to pay upon filing Form N-400. For instance, some applicants for naturalization will have to pay a biometrics fee of $85 per applicant. This will increase the $595 filing fee to a total of $680 if it is required. In some instances, an applicant may be able to waive the filing or biometrics fee, such as if they served in the military or are over 75 years of age.
After an applicant has submitted all of the necessary documents for naturalization, they must wait until they are contacted with further instructions. Some applicants may be asked to provide supplemental information or to attend multiple rounds of interviews with the U.S. immigration authorities.
Additionally, unless they are exempted, an applicant should also expect to take a two-part U.S. citizenship exam that they must pass in order to move on to the final stage of naturalization.
Assuming the applicant has passed the U.S. citizenship test and has fulfilled all other naturalization requirements, they will be invited to attend a ceremony wherein they will be required to swear an oath that pledges their allegiance to the United States. Only once they become a U.S. citizen will they be allowed to apply for a Certificate of Naturalization.
What If I Need to Replace My Certificate of Naturalization?
In the event that an individual needs to replace their Certificate of Naturalization, they will need to submit a separate application that is specifically for requesting a replacement copy of a Certificate of Naturalization (i.e., Form N-565). An individual must apply for a replacement copy of a Certificate of Naturalization when their original or prior copy has been destroyed, lost, shredded, or contains erroneous information.
In particular, the individual will need to fill out and submit the documents for Form N-565, “Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Documentation”, that currently costs $245 and which does not include the costs of government filing fees. It is important to note that this is the single form used to replace both Certificates of Naturalization and Certificates of Citizenship when they are lost or destroyed.
Is a Certificate of Naturalization Different from a Certificate of Citizenship?
It is important to be able to tell the differences between a Certificate of Naturalization and a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship. For one, they each have their own separate application forms and procedural requirements. While some of the processes may be similar and an applicant will typically receive the same benefits under both, there are certain distinctions that an applicant should know in order to determine which certificate they should apply for and obtain.
Therefore, an applicant may want to consider hiring an immigration law attorney for further legal advice on such matters. Generally speaking, however, some basic distinctions between the two certificates may include that:
- A Certificate of Citizenship is granted to persons who derive U.S. citizenship through parents who are U.S. citizens, whereas a Certificate of Naturalization is only given to those who become a U.S. citizen through the process of naturalization.
- The form to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship is Form N-600, while the form to obtain a
- Certificate of Naturalization is Form N-400.
- The USCIS will issue a Certificate of Naturalization to a foreign-born national who becomes a U.S. citizen after they turn 18 years old, pass the U.S. citizenship exam, take an oath at the swearing-in ceremony, and fulfill all other requirements. The USCIS will issue a Certificate of Citizenship to anyone born in the U.S. or to parents who are U.S. citizens at any point and without having to take a test, attend an interview, or swear an oath at a ceremony.
- Unlike a foreign-born national who must fulfill the requirements of a Certificate of Naturalization to become a U.S. citizen, a person seeking to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship will not need to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or be a green card holder before they can apply for the latter certificate. This is because they must already be considered to be a U.S. citizen before they apply for a Certificate of Citizenship.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Issues Regarding a Certificate of Naturalization?
If you have any questions or have an issue regarding a Certificate of Naturalization, then it may be in your best interest to contact a local immigration lawyer for further legal guidance as soon as possible. An experienced immigration lawyer will be able to respond to any questions you may have about the application process for naturalization and can give you legal advice on how to abide by all of the requirements for naturalization.
Your lawyer will also be able to assist you with obtaining a replacement copy of a Certificate of Naturalization in the event that your original copy was destroyed or lost. This can be a valuable legal service to have since obtaining a replacement copy (i.e., Form N-565) can often be a challenging process. In addition, if you need legal representation on an immigration law matter in court, your lawyer will be able to fulfill this role for you as well.