A Certificate of Citizenship is how individuals born outside of the United States to citizen parent(s) can prove U.S. citizenship. This certificate is important because it can be used as proof of citizenship to obtain a U.S. passport and other immigration services for a spouse or relative down the line. Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, can be filed online or by paper to acquire the certificate. Follow this ultimate guide for instructions, N-600 processing times, fee waiver, and more.

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Documents to Demonstrate Proof of Citizenship

If you were born or adopted to a U.S. citizen parent(s), then you are, by law, eligible for U.S. citizenship before age 18. Other documents that serve as proof of your U.S. citizenship include:

Under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a child born outside of the United States is automatically a U.S. citizen if all the following conditions are met (on or after Feb. 27, 2001):

  • At least one parent (adoptive parents count) is a U.S. citizen through birth or naturalization
  • The child is under the age of 18
  • The child is living in the U.S. legally, in the custody of the U.S. parent
  • The child is a lawful permanent resident

If these conditions are met, and you need to prove your citizenship, you should apply for a Certificate of Citizenship or an N-600 for a child.

Acquisition Versus Derivation

You may see the terms acquisition and derivation used when exploring the Certificate of Citizenship process. The word acquisition is used to describe a person born outside the U.S. to a citizen parent. In contrast, derivation describes a person who has obtained citizenship with parents who are green card holders.

Instructions to File Form N-600

Form N-600 can be filed online with a USCIS account or by paper. To file online, access USCIS online services and log in with your USCIS account. There, you will be able to submit the filing fee along with passport-style photos and other supporting evidence.

It is recommended to file online because you can easily check the status of your application and receive updates, respond to requests for evidence, and change your contact information if you need to.

If you would like to file Form N-600 by paper, you can download the application. Once you have completed and signed all the questions (in black ink), attach any supporting evidence and mail it to one of the following addresses:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

P.O. Box 20100
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: Form N-600
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Section 1: Information About Your Eligibility

The first section of the application asks whether you are a biological child of a U.S. citizen parent or an adopted child of a U.S. citizen parent. If neither of these describes you, then check “Other” and fully explain your eligibility.

Section 2: Information About You

Section 2 should be filled out about you or, if you are applying for a minor, about your child.

You will need to fill in your full name, U.S. Social Security Number (if applicable), USCIS online account number (if any), date of birth, country of birth, country of prior citizenship or nationality, mailing address, marital status, gender, and information about your admission into the U.S.

You will also need to indicate the type of travel document you used to be admitted into the country.

On Page 3 of Section 2, you need to select whether you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, Nonimmigrant, refugee/asylee, or other. If you obtained Lawful Permanent Resident status via an adjustment of status, indicate the date this happened and the location in Question 14D.

If you previously applied for a Certificate of Citizenship or U.S. passport, you need to explain in the space provided.

The remainder of Section 2 is dedicated to questions regarding your adoption if you answered that you were an adopted child of a U.S. citizen parent in question 1.

Section 3: Biographic Information

This section is entirely biographic information like your ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye color, and hair color.

Section 4: Information About Your U.S. Citizen Biological Father (or Adoptive Father)

Complete Section 4 if you are claiming citizenship through your biological or adopted U.S. citizen father. Should you be the U.S. citizen father applying on behalf of your child, then answer the questions about yourself regarding name, date of birth, country of birth, citizenship/nationality, physical address, and marital history.

Section 5: Information About Your U.S. Citizen Biological Mother (or Adoptive Mother)

Complete Section 5 f you are claiming citizenship through your biological or adopted U.S. citizen mother. If you are a U.S. citizen mother applying on behalf of your child, then answer the questions about yourself regarding name, date of birth, country of birth, citizenship/nationality, physical address, and marital history.

Section 6: Physical Presence in the United States From Birth Until Filling of Form N-600

Section 6 should ask about specific dates you were physically present in the United States since you were born. Be aware that only individuals born outside of the U.S. to citizen parent(s) need to list all the dates in this section.

Section 7: Information About Military Service of U.S. Citizen Parents

You should only fill out Section 7 if you are claiming U.S. citizenship at the time of birth abroad. An example would be parents in the Armed Forces who are stationed overseas and give birth there. If this applies to your case, you need to write the dates of military service your mother or father had and the type of discharge whether honorable, dishonorable, or other than honorable.

Section 8: Applicant’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

The section asks you to certify that you can read and understand English (or had an interpreter you will name in Section 9 to answer the questions). Sign and certify that the documents you provide as evidence are unaltered, exact photocopies or originals and that you authorize the release of this form information to immigration enforcement agencies when necessary.

Section 9: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

If an interpreter aided in completing Form N-600, list their full name, mailing address, and contact information in Section 9. They will also need to certify under penalty of perjury that they are fluent in English and the applicant’s native language.

Section 10: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, if Other than the Applicant

If you used a preparer (like a lawyer or accredited representative) to complete the Certificate of Citizenship form, list their full name, mailing address, and contact information. In addition, they will all need to certify and sign that they prepared the application at the applicant’s request.

Section 11: Additional Information

This space is provided to elaborate on answers to previous questions.

Section 12: Affidavit

Do not complete this section unless you have been instructed to during your interview. Not all applicants will be required to have an interview with USCIS. The decision for an affidavit is made on a case-by-case basis according to the information in your application and supporting documents. For reasons including this one, it is always advised to have an immigration professional prepare and review your immigration documents to ensure the best case for approval of your certificate requests.

Section 13: Officer Report and Recommendation on Application for Certificate of Citizenship (USCIS USE ONLY)

The USCIS officer will complete this section based on the documents, records, and testimony you provide. Therefore, do not write anything in this area.

Who Should Not Use Form N-600?

You cannot file Form N-600 if your place of birth was in the United States because your birth certificate serves as your citizenship proof. Likewise, do not file Form N-600 if you became a naturalized citizen because your Certificate of Naturalization serves as your proof. If you are currently abroad, you should try to obtain proof of citizenship through a passport application.

N-600 Processing Time

While you should take COVID delays and USCIS field office backlogs into account, the approximate N-600 processing time is 13.5 months.

N-600 Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain a replacement Certificate of Citizenship?

You can receive a replacement Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.

What supporting documents do I need to submit?

You may be required to submit any of the following supporting documents to file Form N-600:

  • Two identical passport-style photos (2×2) taken within 30 days of filing the application
  • Birth certificate or record issued and certified by a civil authority in your birth country
  • Proof of parent(s) United States citizenship (i.e., birth certificates, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, valid unexpired U.S. passport, etc.)
  • Citizen parent’s birth certificate
  • Evidence of citizen parent’s physical presence in the U.S. (i.e., school records, employment records, mortgages, deeds, etc.)
  • Parent’s marriage certificate
  • For children born out of wedlock, evidence of a relationship
  • For individual’s with divorced or separated parents, evidence of legal custody
  • Adoption decrees, if applicable
  • Proof of legal name change, if applicable

Should you not submit the requested evidence, then USCIS can reject your application.

If you file online, you can upload these documents through your USCIS online account, but your evidence will need to be included in the printed package if you decide to mail your application.

How much does it cost to file Form N-600?

The filing fee for Form N-600 is $1,170.

Is there an N-600 Fee Waiver?

However, an N-600 fee waiver may be possible if you meet the eligibility criteria.

You will need to File Form I-912 to apply for the fee waiver.  To qualify for an N-600 fee waiver, you must demonstrate one of the following conditions:

  • You or your spouse is the head of household and currently receiving a means-tested benefit (i.e., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, housing benefits, employment allowance, Supplemental Security Income, etc.)
  • Your household income is at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time of filing.
  • You are facing a proven financial hardship such as unexpected medical expenses.

Since USCIS filing fees sometimes change, you should always check the USCIS website for the correct amount before making out your check. You can also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center with fee questions.

How can I pay the N-600 filing fee?

Instructions to pay the filing fee according to USCIS:

Your check or money order must be drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and must be payable in U.S. currency. Make the check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. NOTE: Spell out U.S. Department of Homeland Security; do not use the initials “USDHS” or “DHS.” If you live outside the United States, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate for instructions on the method of payment.

Failure to pay the appropriate N-600 fee will result in a rejection. If you feel you can not afford the fee and have a legitimate financial hardship, apply for an N-600 fee waiver using Form I-912.

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

Form N-600 is designed for U.S. citizens who do not have evidence of their citizenship to obtain a citizenship certificate. Form N-400 is for green card holders to apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

So if one or both of your parents is a U.S. citizen or went through the naturalization process before you turned 18 years old, you are likely already a U.S. citizen and should use Form N-600 if you need proof of citizenship and do not have a birth certificate. However, if you have already become a naturalized citizen, your Certificate of Naturalization serves as your evidence, and you should not file Form N-400.

How long does it take to get N-600 approved?

It takes approximately 13.5 months to process the N-600, although it may take longer with current immigration backlogs due to the pandemic. USCIS will notify you of their decision in writing. If you filed online, USCIS would also note the approval or denial in your USCIS online account.

Does Form N-600 require an interview?

This requirement is determined on a case-by-case basis, so not all applicants will be required to have an in-person interview with USCIS. In some instances, USCIS may also require you to provide fingerprints, photos, or signatures to verify your identity.

Does my child need N-600?

If your child was born in the United States, they automatically have U.S. citizenship, and their birth certificate serves as proof of their citizenship. However, if your child was born abroad to a U.S. citizen mother or father (or green card holder parents), then the legal guardian can file Form N-600 to acquire proof of the child’s U.S. citizenship. The same goes for an adoptive parent that is a U.S. citizen.

Can I get a Certificate of Citizenship if my U.S. citizen parent is dead?

In most cases, a deceased U.S. parent will not affect your ability to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship if you were eligible for citizenship based on birth, or before your parent’s death. However, if you were not eligible for citizenship before your citizen parent died, that would affect your ability to get the certificate unless you can qualify based on Section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act requirements. 

If my N-600 is rejected, what happens to my filing fee?

USCIS will return your filing fee and application to you (sent to the mailing address provided) if USICS denies your Form N-600.

How can I check the status of my N-600?

After USCIS notifies you that they have received your application, you will be given a  13-digit receipt number. Use this receipt number on the USCIS Case Status Tool to check the processing updates. If you filed online using your USCIS account, you could also check there for stage updates.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help

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Improperly filing Form N-600 can lead to delays and possibly denials when trying to obtain your Certificate of Citizenship. Due to the importance of having proof of your citizenship, we highly recommend having immigration professionals assist you in the filing. Our experts have helped countless clients obtain these certificates as well as other immigration benefits.