There are many ways to prove that you are a U.S. citizen. However, if you derived U.S. citizenship from parents who naturalized when you were a child, you may need to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship as proof of your nationality. You may also need this certificate if you acquired citizenship from your parents but they failed to register your birth abroad before you turned 18 years old. This article will explain how (and when) to submit Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to obtain evidence of U.S. nationality. To learn more about who should submit Form N-600, read “How Foreign-Born Children of American Citizens Can Prove U.S. Citizenship.”
Tips for Filling Out Form N-600
Form N-600 and its instructions are available on the “Forms” page of the USCIS website. Before you fill out this form, keep in mind that:
- You should submit Form N-600 only if you already have a claim to U.S. citizenship from a U.S. citizen parent. This is not the form that you use to apply for citizenship (or “naturalize”). The laws on who may acquire or derive citizenship from their parents have changed throughout the years depending on a number of factors. To learn more on the laws in effect on your date of birth or the date you were born or when your parent naturalized, see Nolo’s section, “Acquiring or Deriving Citizenship Through Parents.”
- You should submit Form N-600 only if you do not have another document proving U.S. citizenship such as a U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, or a consular record of birth abroad.
- If you previously received a denial of a Form N-600, USCIS has already determined that you do not have a claim to U.S. citizenship and any subsequent applications will not be accepted. Consult an experienced immigration attorney to help you research other options (such as obtaining a green card from a qualifying family member or submitting an application to naturalize).
- If you were previously issued a Certificate of Citizenship but it was lost or stolen, you should instead submit Form N-565, Application for a Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
- If you are attaching separate statements or evidence, make sure your name, alien registration number (also called “A#,” if applicable), and question number appear at the top of the page.
Line-by-Line Instructions for Form N-600
You should always refer to the instructions that USCIS provides along with its official forms and applications. Here we will provide information about some of the trickier questions on the N-600. If a question is self-explanatory, it will be skipped in this discussion.
Part 1. “Information About Your Eligibility.” Check either Box 1 or 2 to indicate whether you are the biological or adopted child of a U.S. citizen. U.S. law treated adopted children differently for the purposes of U.S. citizenship depending on when they were born (or when their parents naturalized).
Box 3 provides an option for “Other.” You can check this box if you want to provide information about your grandparents to prove that you are a U.S. citizen and your parent never obtained proof of his or her own U.S. citizenship. You will need to explain this situation and may want to attach a separate statement to your application. For more information, see “Can I get U.S. citizenship through a grandparent?” Please note that stepchildren of U.S. citizens cannot acquire or derive U.S. citizenship.
Part 2. “Information About You.” If you are under age 18, you will need to have your U.S. citizen parent complete this application and provide his or her personal information in this section. If you are an adult, fill out this section with your own personal information, such as name, former names, address, marital status, and immigration history. If a question does not apply to you, write “N/A” (for “not applicable”) or “none” instead of leaving that space blank.
Question 16 asks about your immigration status and date of admission into the United States. These questions may not apply to you if you were born abroad, acquired citizenship at birth, and never visited the U.S., for example. But if you have ever traveled to the United States (or currently reside in the U.S.), you should provide information about your last date of admission and the documents you used to enter the country (for example, foreign passport or refugee travel document). Part C. asks about your current U.S. immigration status. If you are a green card holder, check “A Permanent Resident” and provide specific details in Part D. If you entered the U.S. using a tourist or another temporary visa such as a student visa, check “A Nonimmigrant.”
Question 18 asks if you have ever lost or abandoned your permanent residence. You should check “no,” even if you have never been issued a green card. This question is of significance if you derived U.S. citizenship because your parent naturalized when you were a child green card holder. If you lost or abandoned your permanent residence because you lived abroad for a long period of time when your parent naturalized, you may not be eligible to file Form N-600. Contact an immigration attorney who can best advise you on how to proceed.
Questions 19 and 20 pertain to adopted children. In some instances, you may be required to be “readopted” into the United States in order to claim U.S. citizenship. If this applies to you, you will need to attach evidence related to your adoption. For further information on the laws affecting adopted children, please see “Acquisition or Derivation of Citizenship for Adopted Children.”
Questions 21 through 23 discuss your parents’ marital status. If your parents were not married when you were born, you may not acquire or derive U.S. citizenship from your father if he or she never took steps to “legitimate” you before you reached a certain age. Legitimation rules depend on the laws of your country, but usually involve such steps as as marrying your mother, paying child support, or adding his name to your birth certificate. If you were born out-of-wedlock and your father is a U.S. citizen, you will need to provide documentation to prove that he legitimated you along with your application. Question 23 asks if you were in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. You must answer “yes” to successfully derive citizenship from your U.S. citizen parent.
Complete Question 24 only if you were born before October 10, 1952 and you are claiming that you acquired U.S. citizenship at birth through your parents. Many children born before that date were required to reside in the United States for at least two years between the ages of 14 and 28. You will need to list the dates you lived in the United States and provide proof of residence.
Part 3. “Information About Your U.S. Citizen Biological Father (or Adopted Father).” If you are claiming that you acquired or derived U.S. citizenship from both parents (or you are a father submitting Form N-600 for your minor child), you will need to complete both parts 3 and 4. If you are claiming citizenship based solely on your U.S. citizen father, you can complete this section and skip Part 4.
Provide personal information as requested. Question 8 asks about your father’s marital history. This is relevant if your parents were not married when you were born and whether or not you will be required to provide proof that he “legitimated” you along with the application.
Part 4. “Information About Your U.S. Citizen Biological Mother (or Adopted Mother).” Just like with the previous section, complete this section if you are claiming U.S. citizenship based on both parents or just from your U.S. citizen mother (or you are a mother applying for your minor child). You can skip Part 3 if your father was not a U.S. citizen (or if you were born out-of-wedlock and were not legitimated).
Part 5. “Physical Presence in the United States From Birth Until Filing of Form N-600.” If you are claiming that you automatically became a U.S. citizen at birth because you acquired citizenship from a U.S. citizen parent, you will need to provide all the dates of their residence in the United States. How long your parent must have resided in the U.S. will depend on the laws in effect when you were born.
Part 6. “Information About Military Service of U.S. Citizen Parent.” Complete this section if you acquired U.S. citizenship at the time of your birth and you want to use a parent’s dates of military service to fulfill the physical presence requirements (even if he or she was stationed overseas).
Part 7. “Your Signature.” Make sure to sign and date here.
Part 8. “Signature of Person Who Prepared This Form for You.” If someone else, such as an attorney, completed Form N-600 on your behalf.
Parts 9 & 10. DO NOT complete these sections. You will be instructed to complete Part 9 if you are required to appear for an interview and Part 10 is for USCIS use only.
Document Checklist for Form N-600
Along with your completed and signed N-600, all applicants should provide:
- check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” for the appropriate amount (As of March 2013, this was $600 for biological children and $550 for adopted children. There is no fee for members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces submitting Form N-600 on their own behalf, but you will need to attach proof of your military service. The children of military service members and veterans must still pay the applicable fee.)
- two recent and identical passport-style photographs with your A number written lightly in pencil on the back sides
- a copy of your birth certificate or registration, certified by the appropriate official in the country of your birth
- a copy of your U.S. citizen parent’s (or parents’) birth certificate or registration of birth
- a copy of a marriage certificate for your U.S. citizen parent for his or her current marriage and/or a copy of a marriage certificate for your parents’ marriage, and
- a copy of the front and back sides of your U.S. permanent resident card (if applicable).
If you only have one U.S. citizen parent, you will need to provide additional information to prove that he or she resided or was physically present in the United States for the period of time required by law. This evidence can include the following documents:
- school, employment, or military records (such as report cards, diplomas, W-2 forms, enlistment records, and other official correspondence)
- deeds, mortgages, utility bills, or leases showing a place of U.S. residence
- tax transcripts or U.S. Social Security quarterly reports
- letters or affidavits from officials from churches, clubs, unions, and other organizations to which your parent belonged
If you derived citizenship from one U.S. parent, that parent must have had physical and legal custody of you on the date that you derived citizenship. Evidence can include:
- court records or custody orders
- proof that you resided with the U.S. citizen parent on the relevant dates (such as school records showing your U.S. citizen parent’s address)
If you were born out-of-wedlock and are basing your claim to U.S. citizenship on your U.S. citizen’s father’s status, you should submit proof that he legitimated you, based on the laws of your country of residence or his country of residence such as:
- a copy of your birth certificate or registration with your father’s name listed
- DNA test results
- proof that your father provided you with financial support, either by court order or personal choice (such as cancelled checks, letters to you, or
- proof that you lived with your father and that he called you his son or daughter (such as evidence of a shared residence and birthday cards from “Dad”).