A Certificate of Naturalization is given to new citizens of the United States after taking the Oath of Allegiance during their naturalization ceremony. The Certificate of Naturalization serves as proof of US citizenship, as does a valid US passport.
Naturalization is a process for foreign nationals to obtain US citizenship after fulfilling the necessary requirements set forth by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). To apply for US citizenship, candidates must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
Naturalization applicants are required to take a civics and English test, attend an interview, and complete their naturalization ceremony, where they receive their Certificate of Naturalization.
To qualify for US citizenship, naturalization applicants must fall under one of the following eligibility classifications.
- Has been a permanent resident in the US for a minimum of 5 years.
- Is the spouse of a US citizen and has been a US permanent resident for at 3 three years.
- Has performed services in the US Armed Forces.
- Is the child of a US citizen. This applies to children who are born outside the US and are currently residing outside the US but meet all the eligibility criteria.
What is the difference between a Certificate of Citizenship and a Certificate of Naturalization?
Both the Certificate of Naturalization and Certificate of Citizenship serve as evidence of US citizenship, but they differ in their eligibility criteria.
- A Certificate of Naturalization is granted to lawful permanent residents who have fulfilled the requirements set by the Immigration and Nationality Act established by Congress and completed the naturalization process to become a US citizen.
- A Certificate of US Citizenship is granted to individuals who were born in a foreign land and acquired or derived citizenship either by adoption or birth to a US citizen or parents.
What is the process for obtaining a Naturalization Certificate?
1. Determine whether you are eligible for US citizenship. You may qualify for naturalization if you are at least 18 years old and have resided in the US for at least 5 years. If you are married to a US citizen, you must have resided in the US for at least 3 years.
2. Review Form M-476, A Guide to Naturalization, to learn about eligibility requirements.
3. Download and complete Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, to apply for naturalization.
4. After completing and signing the form, obtain two passport sized photographs.
5. Gather all documents that establish your eligibility to obtain naturalization. Do not forget to include the fee for processing as well as biometric service fees.
6. Review your Form N-400 and ensure all supporting documents are present. USCIS may request additional documentation. It may delay the processing of your form.
7. Submit your form, supporting documents and photographs along with the fees to USCIS. The address is:
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express Mail or courier deliveries, use the following address:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
8. Once your form is submitted, you will receive a receipt notice. You may use this check the status of your application at www.uscis.gov.
9. Keep a copy of your Form N-400 as well as the supporting documents. You will be required to answer questions at the naturalization interview. Please note, USCIS requires all applicants to complete their biometrics appointment before scheduling the naturalization interview. Individuals who are 75 years or older are exempt from the fingerprint requirements.
10. Once your application has been processed, and your biometric service appointment is complete, USCIS will schedule a face-to-face interview with you. An appointment notice will be sent to you. You must carry this notice to your interview. If you miss your interview, you must notify USCIS immediately.
11. At the interview, a USCIS officer will ask you questions about your Form N-400. You will also be required to take US civics, English, and history tests.
12. Following the interview, the USCIS officer will notify you of the results. Sometimes, the officer may be able to inform you of their decision on the day of your naturalization interview. It means the USCIS officer will continue your case.
Your application may be continued for several reasons including:
- You failed either the English, civics, or history tests. You will be required to schedule another interview within 60 to 90 days. At this time, you will be retested on the part you failed. Your application will be denied if you fail a second time.
- You failed to provide USCIS with the correct documentation.
13. You will hear a decision regarding your Form N-400 from USCIS. They may approve or deny your application based on whether you meet the eligibility criteria for naturalization. If your application is denied, you will receive a letter from USCIS with an explanation. If you believe you were incorrectly denied, you may file a request for an appeal.
If your form is approved, you will receive a notice from USCIS to take the Oath of Allegiance. In some instances, you may be asked to participate in the oath ceremony on the same day. If this is not possible, USCIS will mail you the date and time of the ceremony.
14. You must attend the oath ceremony. If you are unable to do so, inform USCIS immediately with your reason in writing along with Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony. Ensure that you request for a reschedule.
15. Attend the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony on the day and time mentioned. When you arrive at the ceremony, you will be asked to complete a questionnaire Form N-445. While the USCIS officer is reviewing your form, you will be asked to surrender your Permanent Resident Card.
16. Take the Oath of Allegiance.
17. Following the oath ceremony, you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization. Review your certificate carefully. If you notice any mistakes, inform a USCIS officer before leaving the ceremony.
It is recommended that you apply for a US Passport following the receipt of your Certificate of Naturalization.
Lost Certificate of Naturalization
If you have lost your Certificate of Naturalization, you may request a replacement certificate. To request a replacement Certificate of Naturalization:
- File Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
- Submit filing fee of $345 USD.
For the complete details on requesting a replacement Certificate of Naturalization, view the Form N-565 Instructions.