Once you become a U.S. citizen, you have access to additional benefits and services. But there are still some actions you’ll need to take in order to take advantage of your new status.
Sure, you can wait until you need them. But often these benefits and services take time to obtain. It’s smart to take care of them immediately after becoming a U.S. citizen, before you forget or lose important paperwork.
Once you have your Certificate of Naturalization, consider taking action on these four items:
Apply for a U.S. Passport
When you become a U.S. citizen at your oath ceremony, USCIS officials will provide you with a Certificate of Naturalization. While this is an important document, you won’t be able to use it for travel. It’s also not a very practical document for proving you are a citizen in other situations.
You’ll need to apply for a U.S. passport after naturalization. This process may take a few weeks. Therefore, make any travel plans accordingly. When applying for your U.S. passport, you must submit your original Certificate of Naturalization and a photocopy. The State Department will return your original certificate.
As a first-time applicant, you must apply in-person. Many U.S. post offices have personnel that can help you through the process. Depending on your local area, other public offices like libraries may have resources to help with receiving the application. To download passport forms and to find a passport acceptance facility near you, visit https://travel.state.gov.
Get Your Child a Certificate of Citizenship
Generally, your children will automatically become citizens once a parent naturalizes. However, there are still some actions you should take.
If you have a child who is a lawful permanent resident under the age of 18 on the day you naturalize, he or she generally derives citizenship based on your naturalization.
You may apply for the child’s U.S. passport at the same time as your passport. But it is also important to have proof of when your child acquired citizenship. Documentation that provides evidence of how and when a person obtained U.S. citizenship is sometimes necessary for certain benefits. For example, replacing a lost passport later in life will require a Certificate of Citizenship. Updating Social Security records also necessitates this documentation.
To obtain evidence of your child’s U.S. citizenship status, file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Update Your Social Security Record
Maintaining an accurate Social Security record is important for obtaining employment, collecting future benefits, and receiving other government services. Take the time to inform the Social Security Administration of your new status as a U.S. citizen.
In order to update your Social Security record, you must visit an SSA office in-person. They recommend that you wait at least 10 days after your ceremony. Be prepared to show them your Certificate of Naturalization or your U.S. passport.
When you are hired for a job, your employer can enter your SSN into a U.S. Department of Homeland Security web-based system, E-Verify, to determine your eligibility to work in the United States. If you fail to update your record, the inaccurate information could impact the information your employer receives about your work eligibility. To find a Social Security office near you, visit ssa.gov.
Register to Vote
Much of America’s success as a nation can be credited to its democratic style of government. That means citizens have a voice and can influence power through voting. Your perspective as an immigrant is important. Voting in federal elections is both a right and a responsibility that comes with U.S. citizenship.
It’s likely that officials will provide you with a voter registration application at your naturalization ceremony after you take the Oath of Allegiance. If not, you may register to vote at a variety of locations in your community such as post offices, motor vehicle offices, county boards of election, and offices of your state Secretary of State. You may be able to register in-person or by mail.
For more information on registering to vote, visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website at eac.gov.
Sponsor Relatives to Come to the U.S. as Permanent Residents
Your new status as a U.S. citizen gives you the ability to petition certain family members (in priority categories) as permanent residents (green card holders). If you have a foreign national family member who wants to immigrate to the United States, you may be able to help.
A U.S. citizen may petition to the following relationships:
- Son or daughter of any age or marital status
- Brother or sister
Even if you already have a pending petition, updating your status after becoming a U.S. citizen can put your relative in a higher priority category. It enables you to upgrade an I-130 petition after naturalization.
There is always an immigrant visa available to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. For family-preference categories, there is a numerical limit placed on immigrant visas issued each year. Therefore, it makes sense to file the petition as soon as possible. These immigrant visas are provided based on the priority date of the filed petition.
RECOMMENDED: Family-Based Immigration Overview
Replacing a Lost Naturalization Certificate
If your Certificate of Naturalization was lost or stolen, you can replace it by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document.
The need to replace a certificate that was lost, stolen or destroyed is fairly straightforward. However, you will need to provide some corroborating evidence. When filing Form N-565 on the basis of a loss, you should submit evidence of the loss. USCIS wants to know what happened and get some corroborating evidence. Generally, the applicant must submit a police report and a sworn statement.
The Certificate of Naturalization replacement process generally requests that you provide details such as certificate number, date of issuance and place of issuance. If you do not know this information because the document is no longer in your possession, CitizenPath’s software will guide you through these questions.
CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Certificate of Naturalization Replacement Process (N-565), the Citizenship Application (Form N-400), and several other immigration services.