If you are born outside of the United States and need proof of your U.S. citizenship, you’ll need to complete and submit a Form N-600, also known as an Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

In most cases, applicants for this form are U.S. citizens who have at least one U.S. citizen parent and who need an official document to prove their status. This document may also be used to prove the citizenship of a child.

What is a Form N-600?

Form N-600, or an Application for Certificate of Citizenship, is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is typically used as direct proof that U.S. immigration authorities have confirmed your U.S. citizenship. A Certificate of Citizenship is especially useful if you want to obtain a U.S. passport or apply for immigration benefits on someone else’s behalf.

There are two technical terms used to describe people who are granted a U.S. Certificate of Citizenship: 

  • Acquisition. This term indicates individuals who are born outside of the U.S. to a parent who is a U.S. citizen. For example, a child who is born to a father who is a U.S. citizen working in the military and currently deployed to another country.
  • Derivation. This term denotes individuals who are children of parents who have a permanent resident status (Green Card holders) and have obtained their U.S. citizenship. 

A Certificate of Citizenship is not intended for individuals who already have a Green Card and intend on obtaining citizenship status through naturalization.

Who should file a Form N-600? 

You may file Form N-600 if: 

  • Your biological or adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen and you were born outside of the U.S.
  • You automatically obtained citizenship status after you were born, but before turning 18.

Who should not file a Form N-600? 

You may not be able to file for Form N-600 if one or more of the following apply to you: 

  • You are not the biological or adoptive child of at least one U.S. citizen. 
  • Your parents were not married when you were born, your father is a U.S. citizen, and your birth was not legitimated before you turned 18 years of age. 
  • You are requesting a replacement for a lost or stolen Certificate of Citizenship. 
  • You have previously filed a Form N-600 and already received a decision from the USCIS regarding your application. 

Form N-600 eligibility requirements

The laws pertaining to U.S. citizenship are subject to changes. Therefore, there are different laws to determine eligibility for automatic citizenship depending on your date of birth. If you were born outside of the U.S.  and are claiming citizenship, the laws that were effective on your date of birth apply. 

You can file Form N-600 if you became a U.S. citizen when you were born or after you were born but before your 18th birthday. Typically, to be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship using a Form N-600, you must meet the following conditions before your 18th birthday: 

  • Must be the biological child of a U.S. citizen
  • Are the adopted child of a U.S.  citizen
  • Entered the U.S. lawfully and have obtained status as a permanent resident
  • Legally and physically residing with a parent who is a U.S. citizen

What documents are required with Form N-600? 

The following documents should be submitted when filing Form N-600: 

  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Birth certificate or record of birth
  • Evidence that demonstrates one of your parents is a U.S. citizen 
  • Birth certificate of the parent who is a U.S. citizen

If applicable, the following may also be submitted: 

  • Evidence of a parent's U.S. citizenship status
  • Evidence that you are physically living with a parent that is a U.S. citizen
  • Marriage certificate of the parent that is a U.S. citizen
  • Evidence that previous marriage(s) of the U.S. citizen parent was lawfully terminated
  • Evidence that your birth was legitimized if you were born out of wedlock
  • If your parents were legally separated, divorced, or you were adopted, proof of your custody by the U.S. citizen parent
  • Proof of your status as a permanent resident of the U.S., such as a Green Card
  • Proof of legal name changes
  • Copy of complete and final adoption decree

Any documents that are written in a foreign language must be translated into English. When filing Form N-600, include the following copies: 

  • The original document
  • The translation of the original document
  • An affidavit issued by the translator that confirms the accuracy of the translation

How to complete Form N-600

The following instructions may help you fill out Form N-600 properly: 

  • For questions that do not apply to you, provide an answer of “N/A” (not applicable), unless otherwise specified. 
  • For questions that require numeric responses, write the word “none” if it does not apply to you unless specified otherwise.
  • If more space is needed to answer a question, additional space is provided in Part 11.
  • You may also write any additional information on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the application. 
  • Include the page number, part number, and item number that your answer references to on the additional sheet of paper. Sign and date each additional sheet of paper. 
  • If applicable, print your A-Number (previously known as an Alien Registration Number or a “Green Card” number) on the upper right corner of all pages that are submitted with the application. 

All answers on Form N-600 must either be typed or legibly printed in black ink.

What if some documents aren’t available?

If you are not able to provide one or more documents required by the USCIS (see above), you may be required to provide a typed or printed reason why the requested document is unavailable. You must also provide secondary proof that acts as an acceptable replacement for the missing document that establishes your eligibility to receive a Certificate of Citizenship. 

In some cases, the USCIS may ask for an original printed or typed statement from the appropriate legal authority or government body as evidence that you cannot provide the requested document.

Acceptable forms of secondary evidence include: 

  • School records: An official document from governing authorities of a school that you attended that contains information such as the date you were admitted to the school, your place of birth, your age at the time you were enrolled in the school, and the names and residences of your birth parents.
  • Federal or state census record: This must indicate your name, place of birth, date of birth, or your age. 
  • Certificate of baptism: This certificate should contain a seal from the church you were baptized and illustrate your place of birth, date of birth, date of baptism, the names of your birth or adoptive parents, and the names of your godparents (if they are known). 
  • Affidavit: An affidavit may be used as a form of secondary evidence to prove your eligibility, but only when other forms of secondary evidence are unavailable. The affidavit must be typed or printed, and the statement must be affirmed by two individuals who have direct knowledge that prove your citizenship, such as your place of birth and date of birth. Affidavits can be provided by individuals who are not U.S. citizens and must contain your full legal name, address, birthplace, birth date and your relationship with the individual.

How much does Form N-600 cost? 

There is a filing fee of $1,170 unless you’re a member or veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces and filing on your own behalf. This fee must be submitted in the exact amount and is non-refundable.

Because USCIS fees are subject to changes, you can easily verify the correct amount by visiting the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov, selecting “forms,” and checking the current fee. Alternatively, you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

How to pay when filing Form N-600

When preparing your money order or check for filing Form N-600, use the following guidelines:

  • The check or money order must be drawn on a bank or other financial institution within the U.S. and must be in U.S. currency.
  • Make the money order or check payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” Do not use abbreviations such as “USDHS” or “DHS.”
  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for instructions on payments if you currently live outside of the U.S.

If USCIS rejects your Application for Certificate of Citizenship, they will typically return the full amount of the filing fee and the application to your mailing address, if you have provided one.

Form N-600 processing time

The processing time for Form N-600 varies. Once the application is received by USCIS, it will be processed and checked. Should the application be deemed incomplete, your eligibility may not be established and your application may be rejected or denied. Therefore, the application must be complete and have all the necessary information requested by the USCIS.

Once your application has been accepted, USCIS will review it and all of the accompanying documents. USCIS will send you a notification of their decision in writing, which may take several months.

In some cases, biometric testing may be required. You won’t have to submit biometric information with your application, however. USCIS will notify you themselves if biometric testing is required and include an appointment notice. For this, there’s an additional fee.

How to check the status of Form N-600

Once the USCIS receives an application or petition, they’ll provide you with a 13-character identifier (receipt number). You may input this receipt number on their USCIS Case Status Online page to see which stage your application is in.

If you don’t have a receipt number, you may contact USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283.

The takeaway

In U.S. immigration, it’s all about proof. If you are filing Form N-600, we hope this post has helped you determine whether Form N-600 is ideal for your needs and what to expect should you decide to file it.

If you’re filing Form N-600 with the intention of moving to the U.S., you will need an American credit score to get started on basic tasks such as getting a credit card, cell phone plan, or lease to an apartment. 

If you are applying for a U.S. citizenship, consider transferring your international credit history from another country with Nova Credit to ease the transition of your financial life abroad to the U.S. Transferring your credit history to the U.S. will give you more freedom to enjoy financial products, such as loans and credit card approvals that can help you arrive and thrive in the U.S.

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