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How Foreign-Born Citizens Can Obtain Proof of U.S. Citizenship

The path to proving your citizenship may depend on various factors, including your place of birth and date of birth. Navigating the intricacies of U.S. immigration law can be pretty challenging, especially if you are a foreign-born citizen or naturalized citizen. This article talks in detail about obtaining proof of your U.S. Citizenship. It highlights vital considerations, such as essential documents, and why these proofs are necessary.

Ways of Acquiring U.S. Citizenship

There are a few ways to acquire U.S. citizenship:​

  • By right of birthplace (jus soli)
  • By right of blood (jus sanguinis)
  • Naturalization

Under jus soli, one receives U.S. citizenship by being born on U.S. soil. This often involves presenting a U.S. birth certificate as the primary evidence of citizenship. 

In contrast, jus sanguinis are those born to at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen. 

Lastly, naturalization is acquiring citizenship by applying with an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The process begins by filing an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) after meeting specific requirements and qualifications.


Reporting the Child's Birth

If you are a U.S. citizen who had a child overseas, you should report the child's birth at the closest U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy near you. Doing this as soon as possible is advisable so the U.S. government can issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and/or U.S. passport. This will be an official record of the child's birth when they claim U.S. citizenship. It is essential to keep this record secured because the U.S. embassy or consulate will only give one original copy of the child's CRBA.

You only have five years to register the child's birth. Failure to register the child before their fifth birthday may cause a loss of the chance of obtaining CRBA.

What Is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)?

A CRBA is a document showing proof that your child was born as a U.S. citizen. The document is issued to children born outside of the U.S. or who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth and are under 18 years old at the time of application.

The name or names of the parents listed on the CRBA are those who have a genetic or gestational connection with the child. The name of the parent(s) who is transmitting U.S. citizenship to the child should be listed on the report. The name of the non-U.S. citizen parent may also be listed on the certificate with the consent of the parent transmitting U.S. citizenship.

What Happens if I Lost My Certificate of Citizenship?

U.S. Citizens or nationals who lost their Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship may file for replacement. The process begins by completing Form N-565 or the Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. This form is often used when the original certificate is lost, destroyed, stolen, or mutilated. You can also use Form N-565 to correct errors found on the original document or in applying for a particular certificate with updated information or name.

  • U.S. Passports
  • Applying for a U.S. identification card, such as a driver's license or U.S. passport, is pretty straightforward for U.S.-born individuals. If you are born abroad to U.S. citizens, you may also apply for a U.S. passport. You will be required to do additional steps in addition to providing the following documents:
  • Show proof of your parent or parents' citizenship. (Form N-600 or their naturalized citizen certificate.
  • Show proof of meeting residency requirements
  • Supply Social Security records
  • Affidavits or personal testimonies from relatives explaining the oversight, if necessary

This evidence may be in the form of citizenship records, tax records, employment records, or affidavits from you or relatives explaining why you were unaware of your claim to U.S. citizenship. You may apply for passports in U.S. passport offices, but people who file directly with the U.S. consulate abroad typically have better results.

  • Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues citizenship certificates to those with a confirmed claim to American citizenship. To show proof of citizenship, you will often need one or more of the following documents:
  • Record of birth or certification of birth
  • School records
  • Census record
  • U.S. military documents
  • Medical records
  • Adoption decree, if applicable
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • Parents' birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates 

You'll also need to prove your name and show any changes to your name, such as through marriage. Include your birth certificate, marriage certificate, or divorce decree with your application.

Considerations for U.S. Citizenship

Dual citizenship is when a person is a citizen of two countries. They enjoy both countries' benefits, economic opportunities, responsibilities, and rights. A person living in the U.S. may acquire dual citizenship in various ways, including the following:

  • Being born in the U.S. to immigrant parents
  • Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen while keeping the citizenship of another country
  • Being born in a country outside of the U.S. to a parent who is a U.S. citizen and another who is a citizen of another country.
  • Regaining citizenship of your country of origin after obtaining a certificate of naturalization in the United States.

Need Legal Advice? Talk to an Immigration Law Attorney

Understanding the intricacies of immigration law can be challenging for most. The difficulties are experienced more by those who are processing the birth record of a U.S. citizen.

If you or your child is looking to obtain proof of U.S. citizenship, it is recommended that you consult an immigration law attorney. They can assist you with understanding the process of acquiring certification of birth and the rules surrounding the Citizenship Act. They can guide you in collecting documents that serve as evidence of citizenship. Moreover, immigration attorneys can also assess the eligibilities or waivers that may apply to your case.

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