If you were born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen parent, or if your parents were permanent residents (green card holders) who became U.S. citizens, you may have become a U.S. citizen automatically, but you might not have any documents that show this. At some point though, you may need to be able to prove your U.S. citizenship, perhaps to obtain Social Security benefits, financial aid, or a driver’s license. A Certificate of Citizenship can serve as that proof and allow you to access these other government services and benefits.

Form N 600 allows you to request a Certificate of Citizenship from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if you find yourself in this situation and meet certain eligibility criteria. You may also complete this application on behalf of your minor child. This guide will outline important information about Form N 600, including who is eligible, the application process and associated costs, and some frequently asked questions.

Eligibilty

To apply for a Citizenship Certificate using Form N 600, you must have been born outside of the United States but be present in the United States at the time of application, and you must have automatically become a U.S. citizen before you turned 18 years old. To submit Form N 600 for yourself, you must be at least 18 years old. If the applicant is under 18, a parent or legal guardian must complete and submit the application on their behalf.

Automatic Citizenship

Whether you automatically became a citizen is determined based on the laws that were in effect when you were born. Since the laws governing automatic citizenship have changed over the years, you probably will want to consult with an attorney to make sure you are accurately assessing your eligibility. Generally, though, there are a few ways in which you could automatically become a citizen of the United States. These are:

  1. You were born abroad to at least one U.S. citizen parent. This is called citizenship by acquisition.
  2. You were born abroad and then adopted by a U.S. citizen. This is called derivative citizenship.
  3. You were born abroad, and your parents were U.S. permanent residents (green card holders) who naturalized to become U.S. citizens. This is also a form of derivative citizenship.

Typically, your U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States or its territories for at least five years, at least two of which were after your parent turned 14 years old, for you to be considered a U.S. citizen at birth when born abroad. However, if your parent does not satisfy these physical presence requirements, you may use the physical presence of a U.S. citizen grandparent to establish U.S. citizenship at birth.

Derivative citizenship based on adoption or a parent’s naturalization can be complicated to determine because the laws have changed many times over the years, so it is best to consult with an attorney who is familiar with immigration laws and who can give you legal advice on how to proceed. Typically, the law that was in effect when you were born will govern your eligibility.

Potential Issue: Birth Out Of Wedlock

If you are basing your U.S. citizenship on your father, and your parents were not married when you were born, the rules can be complicated. USCIS has specific requirements for claiming that you automatically gained citizenship at birth through your father. These requirements include:

  • You can establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that there is a blood relationship between you and your father.
  • Your father was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth.
  • There is evidence, from before you turned 18 years old, that your father accepted the legal obligation to support you financially until the age of 18. If you are a parent applying on behalf of your minor child, the father will need to submit a written statement agreeing to support the child financially until they are 18 years of age. This requirement is waived if the father was deceased before the child turned 18 years old.
  • Before you turned 18 years old, one of the following occurred:
    • You were legitimated under the law of wherever you were living.
    • Your father provided written acknowledgment, under oath, of paternity.
    • Paternity was established by court order.

If you are basing citizenship on a U.S. citizen mother, and you were born out of wedlock, it is also possible that you did not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. If you were 18 or older on February 27, 2001, you probably could only have acquired citizenship through your mother sometime after your birth, and only if paternity had not been established. If you were under 18 or were born after February 27, 2001, that restriction on citizenship acquired from a U.S. citizen mother does not apply to you. Even if you were born out of wedlock, you could acquire citizenship through your mother, so long as your mother was a U.S. citizen before you turned 18, and you were in the United States as a legal permanent resident (green card holder) in the legal and physical custody of your mother.

Who Cannot Apply Using The N 600?

You cannot use this form if any of the following apply to you:

  • You are not a U.S. citizen.
  • You were born in the United States.
  • You have been naturalized to become a U.S. citizen.
  • You are currently living in a different country.

Being ineligible to file Form N 600 does not mean that you do not qualify for any type of immigration relief. You should consult with an attorney if you want to explore your options.

Stages of the Process

Once you and your attorney determine that you are eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship using Form N 600, you can begin the application process. First, you may want to have an idea of how the process will go. Below are the basic stages, from preparing the application to receiving a decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Preparing The N 600 Application For Certificate Of Citizenship

Readying your application for filing will involve completing the N 600 Form according to the instructions and gathering all required documents. You can submit photocopies of all of the documents unless USCIS says otherwise. Some of the documents you must provide are:

  • Two U.S. passport-style photographs of yourself;
  • Your birth certificate;
  • Your U.S. citizen parent’s birth certificate and marriage certificate, if applicable;
  • Proof of your U.S. citizenship; and
  • Proof of your U.S. citizen parent’s presence in the United States.

Depending on your specific situation, there may be other documents that you will have to provide. For example, if your U.S. citizen parent was born abroad and does not have proof of their U.S. citizenship, you may need to obtain documents to show your grandparents’ U.S. citizenship. If you were adopted, you must provide the full, final adoption decree. If you acquired citizenship through a parent naturalizing, you would need to provide evidence of your status as a permanent resident (green card holder). You or your attorney will need to consult the N 600 instructions for the full list of required documentation to determine exactly which documents you should submit.

You may only file Form N 600 one time, so you mustn’t make any mistakes that could affect the success of your application. You probably will want to enlist the help of an immigration attorney who is familiar with the process to ensure that the form gets filled incorrectly and that you have all of the documents that you need to submit.

Filing The Application

You can submit your application, documentation, and filing fee in paper form via mail, or you can create a USCIS online account and file your application online. The USCIS website provides all of the information that you need to know to file in either way.

Passing The Initial Processing Stage

At this stage, USCIS may reject your application if it is incomplete. USCIS does not consider the N 600 to be “filed” until they accept the application at this stage, so you might be allowed to correct whatever initial evidence they say that your application is lacking and to refile the N 600.

Receiving Additional Requests From USCIS

You may receive a request for additional evidence or information to support your Form N 600, or you might be required to provide an original of one of the document copies that you submitted. If you receive a request like this, you should send the information to USCIS as soon as possible. USCIS could close your case if you fail to send in what they have requested.

USCIS might also send a notice giving you a date and time to go to a USCIS office for an interview or for another reason, such as being fingerprinted to prove your identity. They will also inform you of any additional fees for the appointment. Not everyone is required to go for an appointment, so you should not be concerned if you do not receive this request from USCIS. Not receiving this request suggests that you provided USCIS with enough information with your application to decide whether you are eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship.

Attending An Interview Or Biometrics Appointment

When you go for an interview, you should take with you the originals of the documents that you filed with your application. If any of the documents have changed since you filed them, you should also bring these updated documents. While you are there, USCIS might ask you to do more than what was mentioned in the letter. They might take your photograph or your fingerprints, or they could have you sign additional documents. You do not need to be alarmed by this. This may just be to verify your identity or to obtain updated background checks.

Receiving A Decision On Your Application For Certificate Of Citizenship

After USCIS is satisfied that they have enough information to make a decision, they will review your application and decide whether you are eligible for a Certificate of Citizenship based on the information you provided in your Form N 600. They will send you their decision in writing.

If your application is approved, USCIS will issue your Certificate of Citizenship and schedule you to appear for an Oath of Allegiance ceremony. If you are a parent who applied on behalf of your child, then your child may not have to attend the ceremony as long as they are under 14 years of age.

As discussed above, if your application is denied, you cannot file another N 600 application to try again. However, you will have 30 days from the date of the decision to file an appeal. If you miss this deadline but still want to appeal the denial, you will have to file a motion asking the court to reopen your case and reconsider the decision. This is especially useful if your application was denied because you were missing some evidence of citizenship that you now have and can provide to USCIS.

Costs

Filing Fee

The filing fee for Form N 600 is $1,170, which must be paid by check, money order, or cashier’s check to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. There are a few exceptions:

  • If you are a veteran or member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you do not have to pay a filing fee (U.S. Armed Forces includes Army, Marine Corp., Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Space Force).
  • You may be eligible to apply for a fee waiver if you are experiencing financial hardship or are receiving certain government benefits, or if your total household income falls at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

Costs From Preparing Your Application

You will likely encounter expenses, in addition to possible attorney’s fees, while preparing your application and gathering the documents that you are required to submit. One expense that you will almost certainly have is for the U.S. passport-style photographs of yourself, which must be taken no more than 30 days before filing your application. Many drug stores with photography centers will take and print these for you.

There will also probably be some documents that you will need to request from various government agencies. For example, you might not have a copy of your own birth certificate, much less your parent’s birth certificate or marriage certificate. Luckily, you typically can get replacements from the agencies that issued the documents, but you usually have to pay for these copies.

Biometrics Fee

If you have to go to a USCIS office for fingerprinting or to provide other requested information, you will have to pay for the appointment and services. USCIS will include the fee amount in the letter notifying you of your appointment.

Processing Times

The amount of time that it takes for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process your application will vary by USCIS office and their caseloads at that time. In the Ohio offices, applications have recently taken between 7.5 months and 16 months to process, from the date that they were filed to the date that USCIS issued a decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • My mother was a U.S. citizen, but she passed away a few years ago. Does this mean I cannot apply for a Certificate of Citizenship?

No. If you automatically acquired citizenship at or after birth based on your mother’s citizenship and before she passed away, you can still file Form N 600 even though she is deceased. However, if you did not acquire citizenship before she died, you may not be able to use Form N 600, but you might qualify to naturalize to become a U.S. citizen under the Immigration and Nationality Act. You should consult with an attorney for more information on your options.

  • My stepparent is a U.S. citizen, but my biological parent is not. Can I use the N 600 application to apply for a certificate of citizenship based on my stepparent?

No, you cannot apply for citizenship using the N 600 based on a stepparent’s U.S. citizenship unless the stepparent legally adopted you.

  • I conceived my child using a donated egg and sperm. I am a U.S. citizen but I gave birth outside of the United States. Can I apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for my child?

If you are recognized as the legal mother at the time of your child’s birth and you meet all of the other parental requirements for your child’s eligibility, you may be able to file a Form N 600 for your child.

  • My parents got a divorce when we were lawful permanent residents, and then my dad naturalized to become a U.S. citizen. Can I apply for a Certificate of Citizenship?

Maybe. If you were in the lawful and physical custody of your father after he became a citizen and before you turned 18, you may have automatically acquired citizenship when he naturalized and now be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. If you were in your mother’s legal and physical custody and she was not a citizen, then you may not be able to apply because you likely did not automatically acquire citizenship based on your father’s naturalization.

  • What if I am not able to get copies of all of the documents that the application requires?

If a document is not available to you, you can submit an explanation of why you cannot get the document and provide additional documents to support your eligibility. Such documents may include baptismal certificates, school records, or census records. If none of those documents are available either, affidavits of people with personal knowledge of the event that made you a U.S. citizen (your adoption, your parents’ naturalization, etc.) can be submitted.

  • I am 16 years old and received a notice to appear for an interview. Can I go alone?

Unless USCIS specifically waived the requirement for you, you must bring your U.S. citizen parent with you for the interview if you are under 18 years of age.

  • I filed a Form N 600 about eight months ago but I have not heard from USCIS. Is there any way to check the status of my application?

Yes, you can check your case status on the USCIS website using the receipt number that they sent to you in your confirmation letter. If you did not receive any confirmation from USCIS that they received your application, and several months have passed since you filed, it might be a good idea to contact USCIS to confirm that they received it, get your receipt number, and make sure they have your correct address for future correspondence.

  • I filed the N 600, and my application was denied. Can I file another to try again?

No. Unfortunately, once you receive a decision from USCIS on a Form N 600, USCIS will immediately reject any Form N 600 that you attempt to file in the future.

  • I am not a U.S. citizen, but I want to apply to try to become one. Can I file Form N 600?

No. Form N 600 is only for people who are already U.S. citizens to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. It is not a way to apply for citizenship. An attorney can help you to determine whether you are eligible to apply for citizenship using a different USCIS application.

  • What is the difference between N 600 and N 400?

Both N 600 and N 400 concern U.S. citizenship. However, N 600 is meant for those who derive or acquire citizenship from their parents and who are in need of a U.S. Citizenship Certificate. N 400 is for lawful permanent residents of the U.S. who aim to procure U.S. citizenship. So, if you are an immigrant who wants to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you must file an N 400, not an N 600.

We Can Help

If you think that you or your child might qualify for the Form N 600, Herman Legal Group can help you to determine whether the N 600 is right for you and assist you through the process of applying. Remember, you only get one chance to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship using the N 600, and we are here to ensure that your application is the best that it can be to establish eligibility for the Certificate. Even if you are not eligible to use the Form N 600 but want to explore other immigration options that may be available to you, we can help. Reach out to Herman Legal Group by calling +1-800-808-4013 or by contacting us online.

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