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Complete Guide to Form N-550
Individuals born in the United States or to parents who are US citizens will automatically be granted US citizenship and can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. However, individuals who were not born on US soil and whose parents are not US citizens either do not qualify for a Certificate of Citizenship. Instead, they have to first acquire a green card, become a permanent US resident, and then apply for the Certificate of Naturalization, also known as form N-550.
When a green card holder applies for US citizenship through naturalization, the process may seem confusing at first. But to make things easier, here’s a complete guide explaining what form N-550 is, how it can be obtained, and other important information related to it.
What Is Form N-550?
Form N-550, also known as the Certificate of Naturalization, is a document that serves as proof of US citizenship through naturalization. And as explained earlier, naturalization refers to acquiring citizenship for individuals who were neither born in the US nor born to parents who are US citizens. Individuals who receive this certificate will then be considered as naturalized US citizens.
How To Obtain Your Form N-550?
Since form N-550 is proof of US citizenship, the first step to acquiring this document is to meet all the requirements to become a US citizen. These requirements include:
- Holding a green card and having permanent residence in the United States for a certain number of years (usually five years, but can be less for some categories).
- Having lived in the United States for at least half the duration of the required number of years of permanent residence, which, in most cases, means that you have been physically present in the US for at least 2.5 years out of the required five years.
- Having lived ‘continuously’ in the US, which means that you have not lived outside the US for a stretch of six months or more at any given time.
- Being at least 18 years of age or older when filing for citizenship.
- Having lived in the same US state for at least three months before applying for citizenship in the USCIS of the same state.
- Having displayed a positive moral character during your stay in the US (for example, paying taxes diligently and not having any criminal records)
- Being proficient in English (speaking, reading, and writing)
Clearing a brief oral exam on the history and governance of United States
If you meet all these requirements, the next step is to fill the form N-400 at USCIS. Exercise extreme caution when filling form N-400 and ensure that every information you provide is accurate and truthful. Inaccurate information can lead to complications and delay the process, while intentional false statements can lead to your removal from the United States.
Once filled completely and accurately, submit the form N-400 and pay the necessary fees. Next, you may be called for a biometrics appointment and then for a scheduled interview. Then the USCIS will review your application and soon notify you about their decision. If your application is accepted, you will be granted US citizenship through naturalization. The next step will then be to take the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony. A notice will be sent to you regarding the schedule of the ceremony, and your Certificate of Naturalization or the form N-550 will also be granted to you during the ceremony.
Contents of Form N-550
The Certificate of Naturalization of Form N-550 contains the following information:
- The certificate number at the top, printed in red.
- USCIS registration number
- Complete signature of the certificate holder
- Full name of the holder and their residential address
- Date when the certificate was issued
- The USCIS branch where the naturalization ceremony was held
- Photograph of the holder
- A personal description of holder which comprises of their date of birth, sex, height, marital status, and country of former nationality
At the bottom of the certificate, the seal of the Department of Homeland Security is present along with the signature of the director of the USCIS.
How and When to Replace Form N-550?
In some instances, you may have to replace the form N-550, such as:
- If you lose the original Certificate of Naturalization, or if it was stolen or destroyed.
- If there is some incorrect information on the certificate due to typing and printing errors from the USCIS (even though you had provided all the correct information during the application)
- If you legally change your name or gender after being granted the certificate
Apart from these reasons, sometimes, you may also need a copy of your certificate to submit to a foreign country for them to recognize you as a US citizen.
There is a procedure to apply for a replacement of the certificate, which is also known as Form N-570. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of the replacement process:
1. Fill and submit form N-565, which is the Application for Replacement of Naturalization/Citizenship Document. Before filling the form, make sure that you read all the instructions very carefully and provide all accurate information.
2. Submit your Form N-400 as well
3. Pay any applicable fees
4. Submit the necessary documents which provide the evidence supporting your reason to apply for a replacement.
After the USCIS receives your application of form N-565, they will review it and notify you of their decision. If approved, you will be granted form N-570, which replaces the original Certificate of Naturalization.
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Acquiring US citizenship through naturalization is obviously going to be a long and complicated process. Any mistakes or errors can jeopardize your chances of successful application, so it’s important that you clearly understand the process beforehand. The detailed information given above should help you understand the process of obtaining form N-550. If you still have any doubts, it’s best to visit the official website of USCIS and go through all the instructions thoroughly. However, if you’re still uncertain about some things, it may be best to approach an attorney to help you with the application.