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Guide to Certificate of Naturalization for US Passport

Certificate of Naturalization, U.S. Passport and American Flag
Certificate of Naturalization, U.S. Passport and American Flag by Imagezone/DepositPhotos

There are many benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen. For one, you can get a U.S. passport and open the door to unlimited travel days in over 170 countries around the world. You are protected from deportation and can bring family members to the U.S. more easily; you can vote, run for office, enjoy the advantages of college financial aid, and so much more. If you've been living in the United States as a permanent resident for five years or more, or you've been living in the U.S. as a spouse to a U.S. citizen for three years or more, you are eligible to apply for United States citizenship via the naturalization process.

In order to become a U.S. naturalized citizen, you must be at least 18 years old; you have to have entered the country legally and lived here continuously for three to five years; you have to be literate in English; you need to have good character; and you must file a petition for naturalization and complete a multi-step naturalization process. Once you have successfully become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you are eligible for a Certificate of Naturalization.

What is a Certificate of Naturalization?

A Certificate of Naturalization is a document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It provides proof that you have gained United States citizenship through the naturalization process, which is the legal process for obtaining a new nationality. It is differentiated from a Certificate of U.S. Citizenship in that a Certificate of Naturalization verifies the person is a U.S. citizen by virtue of going through the naturalization process and taking the Oath of Allegiance. A Certificate of U.S. Citizenship is given to children whose parent(s) have completed the naturalization process.

How Do You Obtain Your Certificate?

To obtain your Certificate of Naturalization, you will first need to successfully complete the naturalization process. Upon completion, you may apply at one of three locations in the United States. Download and fill out Form N-400; be sure to follow the directions in A Guide to Naturalization when filling out the form and also consult USCIS Lockbox Filing Tips. Take particular care with your current legal name, information about your eligibility, date of birth, country of birth, and mailing address.

Be sure to attach all required documents, including a photocopy of both sides of your Permanent Resident Card, a color photograph, and a check or money order for the fees. Sign Form N-400 and remit the appropriate fees with your application; mail it to the appropriate Lockbox facility. The filing fee is $595, plus an additional $85 biometric fee, making it a total of $680. The biometrics fee is waived for applicants over 75, and for military applicants.

You will be issued your Certificate of Naturalization after an officer approves your N-400 Application for Naturalization, you've surrendered your Permanent Resident Card, and you've taken the Oath of Allegiance. If you have a medical condition that prevents you from attending the oath ceremony, your Oath of Allegiance will be waived and your certificate will be delivered to you either in person or by certified mail.

What Is Included on Your Certificate of Naturalization?

When you receive your Certificate of Naturalization, it will include your USCIS registration number (A-number), your name, sex, date of birth, height, marital status, place of residence, former country of nationality, a photo of you, and, your signature. This is a summary of your identifying information. It will also include your certificate number, a statement from USCIS Director that you met all the requirements for naturalization, the date you became a citizen, the Director's signature, and a Department of Homeland Security seal.

How to Use Your Certificate of Naturalization to Get a U.S. Passport

Now that you are a U.S. Citizen and have your Certificate of Naturalization, you can apply for a new U.S. passport. Your Certificate of Naturalization is proof of citizenship, which is a requirement for a U.S. passport. As a first-time applicant, you'll have to apply in person. Fill out Form DS-11, but don't sign it. Submit your Certificate of Naturalization, a photocopy of your Certificate of Naturalization on 8 x 11 white paper, and one passport photo. You will need the passport fee of $110 and an execution fee of $25. You will be administered an oath that everything is true in your application and you will sign it in front of the passport acceptance facility agent. A U.S. Passport is also proof of citizenship of the United States and can be used anywhere as identification.

As a naturalized citizen of the United States, you're now free to exercise your expanded travel freedoms, so start making those international travel plans. Vote, and help make your new country even better. Start that business you've been thinking about, or finish that degree. As a U.S. citizen, you can enjoy all the rights and responsibilities afforded any other citizen, so use them!

Have you gone through the naturalization process? Tell us what we missed. What tips do you have for others?

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