How Do I Fill Out Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship?

The N-600 is essentially an application for proof of citizenship that you already hold, as opposed to an application to become a new citizen.

Who is Form N-600 For?

To start with, it’s important that you understand what the N-600 is and what it is not: if you’re looking to adjust your status from Lawful Permanent Resident to full United States Citizen, you’ve got the wrong form – that would be the N-400. Rather, the N-600 is essentially an application for proof of citizenship that you already hold, as opposed to an application to become a new citizen.

The N-600 is the form for you if you: A.) were born outside of the country to a US citizen parent; or B.) automatically became a citizen after you were born, but before turning 18. Scenario A is pretty straight-forward, but just so we’re clear: your parent must have already been a citizen at the time you were born.

Scenario B is a bit trickier, so let’s clarify.

Here’s how it generally works. You automatically became a citizen after you were born if:

  • Your biological parent successfully adjusted their status from Lawful Permanent Resident to US Citizen sometime after you were born;
  • You were lawfully admitted to live in the United States permanently;
  • You live under both the legal and physical custody of that parent.
  • All of the above must have been met before you turned 18 years old.

It’s important to note that the citizenship laws have changed over the years. The only way to know for sure if you automatically became a citizen is to check the law that was in effect at the time you were born. Consult an attorney if you’re unsure.

The most recent amendment to the law came into effect on February 27th, 2001.[1] If you met all of the above conditions and were under 18 on that date, you can go ahead and file the N-600. However, if you met all of the other criteria, but you were over 18 on the day the law took effect, you’re going to have file the N-400 and apply for citizenship on your own.

Possible Complications

As previously stated, the above criteria are generally how it works, but there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of.

  • If you were born out-of-wedlock and you were not legitimized before turning 16 and your US Citizen parent is your father, then you did not automatically become a citizen. You’ll have to file the N-400 instead.
  • If your US Citizen parent regularly resides outside of the United States, you’ll have to file the N-600K instead.
  • If you’ve already filed an N-600 and been denied by USCIS, they will not review N-600s that you filed afterward.

One final note to clear up any lingering confusion: you can file this form at any age. Whether you’re 8, 18, or 80 – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you automatically became a citizen either at birth, or at sometime before turning 18.

All right, so does this form still sound like the right one for you? If so, let’s take a look at how to get it done right.

Gathering the Paperwork

As always, USCIS requires a decent stack of paperwork to supplement the actual application form. Submitting photocopies of these documents is both perfectly fine and highly suggested – if you submit originals, you may not get them back. The following are required for every N-600 application:

  • Two identical passport-style photographs of you. USCIS is very particular with the dimensions and characteristics of these photographs, but they’re not terribly hard to get – many pharmacies will take them for you. For more information on where to get passport photos, have a peek at this article. Your name and alien registration must be written on the back of both pictures in either pencil or felt-tip pen.
  • A copy of your birth certificate or record.
  • A copy of your US Citizen parent’s birth certificate or record.
  • Any marriage certificates for your US Citizen parent.
    • Any documents showing dissolution of marriage (if applicable). Divorce decrees, annulments, death certificates – whatever applies.
  • Proof of parent’s US Citizenship: Any of the following will do.
    • A birth certificate showing your parent was born in the United States.
    • N-550: Certificate of Naturalization.
    • N-560: Certificate of Citizenship.
    • FS-240: Report Birth Abroad of United States Citizen.
    • Unexpired US Passport.
  • Proof that your US Citizen parent resides in the United States: Once again, there’s a lot of different things you could submit here.
    • School, employment, or military records.
    • Deeds, mortgages, leases.
    • Declarations from churches, unions, or other organizations of which your parent is a member.
    • Social Security quarterly reports.
    • Sworn affidavits from people with knowledge of your parent’s residency.

The following documents will only be required in more particular scenarios. They are each noted.

  • Proof of legitimization: Only if you were born out-of-wedlock and your US Citizen parent is your father.
  • Proof of legal custody: If your parents are divorced, you will have to submit legal documents showing that it is your US Citizen parent that has legal custody of you.
  • Copy of your permanent resident card: Only if you’re claiming citizenship through a naturalized US Citizen parent after birth.
  • Proof of adoption: Only if you’re adopted, obviously.
    • If you were adopted abroad and had to be legally re-adopted in the United States, you’ll have to submit evidence of both.
  • Evidence of any name changes you’ve had, if applicable.

Can’t Find Something?

Sometimes documents get lost – whether it’s a filing error, a fire, a political revolution, or just plain old bad luck, it may be the case that you can’t track down one of the required documents above. That’s not the end of the world, but you’ll have to do a bit more work to convince USCIS that your claim to citizenship is legitimate.

If a document is unavailable, you’ll have to submit a written explanation of why you will be unable to provide USCIS with the document. USCIS may require corroboration to back up your claim, which will have to come from the appropriate government or legal authority.

For example, if you were born abroad and your birth certificate was destroyed in a fire, USCIS may require the legal authority that issued the birth certificate to corroborate that they do not have a copy on file to provide you with.

But you’re not off the hook just yet. You’ll also have to submit some secondary evidence in place of the missing document in order to back up your claim. USCIS only recognizes four kinds of secondary evidence:

  • Baptismal certificate. Must show your name, your parents’ names, the names of your godparents (if any), and the date and location of your birth.
  • School records. Must be an official letter form the school the date you were admitted, where you were born, the names of your parents, your birthdate or the age you were when you entered the school, and the names and addresses of your birth parents. The first school that you attended as a child is ideal here.
  • Census records. Must how show your name, where you were born, and either your birthdate or age at the time of the census.
  • You can submit sworn affidavits from people that are familiar with:
    • Your place of birth
    • The deaths of any parents,
    • Any of your parent’s marriages/dissolutions of marriage.

Note that USCIS will only accept affidavits related these matters – anything else is off-limits. Any affidavit must contain:

  • The full legal name of the person making the sworn statement.
  • Their address.
  • Their place and date of birth.
  • Their relation to you.
  • A detailed account of the information sworn to, as well as how they came to know it.

The person swearing to the affidavit does not have to be a US Citizen. They may or may not be related to you. Affidavits may vary in how reliably they are perceived by USCIS, so the more you have, the better you’re going to look – as long as they’re consistent, of course.

Translations

Any documents that you submit written in any language other than English must be accompanied by a full English translation. Whoever translated the document must certify that the translation is true and accurate to the best of their ability, and that they are competent to translate whatever the language might be into English.

Generally, neither you nor family members may translate the documents into English.

Filling out the Form

The standard tips for filling out any official USCIS form still apply here – use only pen (blue or black ink). Write legibly, and answer all questions truthfully to the absolute best of your ability. If you need extra space to answer any question, be sure to include your alien registration number (if you have one), the date, the number of the question, and your signature on every additional page.

Most of the questions should be straightforward. The form will naturally ask you many questions about yourself and your parents to a great level of detail, but if you’ve already gathered your accompanying documents, these should answer most of these questions for you. This is why it is strongly suggested that you gather your evidence first.

If you’re filing the N-600 for yourself, the filing fee is $600, to be paid by check or certified money order from a US banking institution, and made payable the US Department of Homeland Security. If you’re a parent filing the form on behalf of an adopted child, the filing fee is $550.

If You’re Called in for an Interview

The purpose behind Form N-600 is fairly straightforward–it’s merely to help you get a certificate to prove that you are a citizen to third parties. Ideally, you proved that to USCIS with the evidence you submitted with your application. However, USCIS may call you in for an interview if they’re not sure about the evidence you submitted.

First of all, just because you’ve been called in for an interview doesn’t mean that USCIS thinks you are suspicious. Rather, it only means that whatever documentation you submitted was either not sufficient on its own to grant you a citizenship certificate right away, or that the documents may require a bit of further explanation. In any event, don’t panic. Tell the truth and explain everything you can to the best of your ability, and you should be fine.

On the day of the interview, you should bring with you the original versions of any photocopied document that you submitted with your application. If you’re under 18, you’ll also have to bring along your parent. If your parent cannot appear (or is deceased), the USCIS district director may waive that requirement if he/she believes you are old enough and competent enough give reliable information.[2] As such, if you anticipate a problem with your parent being present, be sure to contact USCIS right away to explain the situation.

You also have the right to representation by an attorney at the interview.[3]

If you’re confused about the process, or if you just want to make the best possible case for yourself, this may be a good idea. A competent immigration attorney can help to ensure that any adverse evidence that USCIS believes it has it against you is properly handled and readily explained.

Conclusion

If you were not born in the United States, you will need a certificate of citizenship to prove that you are a U.S. citizen. Since citizenship may be acquired a number of ways, Form N-600 allows you to prove your citizenship status to USCIS with different kinds of evidence.

Proof that you are a U.S. citizen will be helpful as you seek to obtain a passport, social security number, or even petition other family members to become permanent residents of the United States.


[1] 8 U.S.C. §§ 1431-33.

[2] 8 CFR 341.2(a)(iii)(2).

[3] 8 CFR 341.2(f).

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