Let's say you just received a notice with your date for your citizenship swearing in ceremony. On top of being excited to become a U.S. citizen, you might hope to finally take an overseas trip and enjoy the ease of travel and return that comes with a U.S. passport.
If you've heard rumors that you can get a U.S. passport at the oath ceremony, these aren't true. However, you're not far away from this important step.
You will receive an important document on the day of the naturalization swearing-in or oath ceremony. It's your "certificate of naturalization." It's not a passport, but a sheet of paper with your photo and some text on it. This certificate is useful for proving your citizenship status in various contexts, such as applying for family members to immigrate—but it cannot be used in place of a U.S. passport.
You will not receive a U.S. passport on the day of your swearing-in ceremony. But in some parts of the United States, if you plan ahead and also leave yourself some time at the end of the ceremony to stand in a long line, you might be able to apply for one. Find out whether the U.S. State Department will be providing staff to accept passport applications at your swearing-in ceremony.
If applying for a passport at your naturalization oath ceremony looks like a good possibility, plan ahead by obtaining two passport-style photos. You can have these done at most chain drugstores, copy shops, or photo shops, typically for less than $15. It's best to go to a professional, because these photos must meet federal guidelines.
It's also a good idea to fill out the passport application form (DS-11) BEFORE you get to the oath ceremony, to make extra sure that it is complete and correct. If you weren't given a copy of this form at your naturalization interview with USCIS, you may download it from the Passport Application Forms page of the State Department website.
DO NOT, however, sign the form until you are in the presence of a State Department official.
Be prepared to pay not only the application fee (check the latest on the Passport Fees page of the State Department website) but the fee to have the completed passport mailed to you.
Normally, there's a wait of around six weeks to receive a U.S. passport. However, the coronavirus pandemic has caused in long delays in producing passports (not to mention scheduling oath ceremonies.)
If you can't apply for your passport during the oath ceremony, there are other ways to do so after attending it. You will get an application for a U.S. passport at your naturalization ceremony in the "U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet," with instructions on how to apply. Go to the Passports page of the U.S. Department of State website for further instructions.
Everyone must go personally to a government office or post office (passport acceptance facility) to apply for their first passport, though you will be able to apply for renewals by mail. The personnel at these locations are not U.S. consular officers, but will should accept your application as long as you provide the correct documents, and will forward it to the Department of State for passport processing.
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