What is a Certificate of Citizenship and Who Qualifies?

A certificate of citizenship is what the name implies; it is a document which certifies that an individual is a US Citizen. In some cases, an individual may be a US Citizen by an operation of law, but has no proof. In such situations, the individual may apply for Certification of Citizenship.There are many situations where an individual may claim US Citizenship. The most obvious claim to citizenship is based on being born on US soil, which provides Citizenship by ‘right of land’ (Jus Soli). In these cases, people have their births registered and wouldn’t need to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. If you were born to US Citizen parents, then you may claim US Citizenship by ‘right of blood’ (Jus Sanguinis). For citizenship by right of birth, at least one parent must be a US Citizen at the time of birth, but there are limits. If both parents are US Citizens are you were born outside the US, one of the Citizen parents must have been a resident in the US before the child’s birth. If one parent is a US Citizen, and the other is not, the Citizen parent must have been physically present in the US before the child was born for 5 years with at least 2 of those years occurring before turning 14.

Claims to Citizenship also occur by operation of law when a parent naturalizes under certain circumstances as well.

Physical presence in the US of a US Citizen Grandparent may be a relevant factor in an “expeditious naturalization” cases.

When can I Obtain a Certification of Citizenship?

After you apply for a certification of citizenship, you should receive a decision within a few months. The timing varies from office to office. Check with USCIS for an estimate.

Are There Other Ways to Obtain Proof of Citizenship?

It is possible to simply apply for a US passport and avoid applying for Certification of Citizenship, since statutory law recognizes that a passport is all that is needed in order to prove US Citizenship. The same evidence presented to prove citizenship in a certification of citizenship application can be presented to the local Passport Agency Office (and not Passport Application Acceptance Facilities). This may require you to obtain proof of intent to travel in the form of tickets and reservations, since the Passport Agency Offices may only schedule applicants who are traveling within two weeks.

In cases where a US Citizen grandparent’s physical presence is a relevant factor in establishing eligibility for “expeditious naturalization,” only USCIS has authority to grant citizenship.

What is the Attorney’s Role in a Certification of Citizenship Case?

The laws surrounding claims to Citizenship can be complicated. An attorney will be able to cite specific statutory law and organize supporting documentation to the satisfaction of a USCIS or DOS reviewing officer in cases where an individual has a claim to citizenship by operation of law.

Contact Us

To discuss claims to Citizenship with an experienced immigration lawyer from the Shah Peerally Law Group, feel free to contact us by email or call us at 510-742-5887.


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