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My parent lost a citizenship document. How do I prove he or she is a U.S. citizen?

proof of parent's citizenship for N-600When making a claim for your own U.S. citizenship, it is necessary to prove that you acquired or derived that citizenship status from your U.S. citizen parent. Proof of your parent’s U.S. citizenship is a critical supporting document that must be submitted when filing Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

You may use the parent’s U.S. passport to establish U.S. citizenship. However, a passport doesn’t indicate when the citizenship status was granted. This additional evidence is very important. Therefore, you generally must use another document. Persons born in the United States can use a birth certificate to prove U.S. citizenship status. Individuals who naturalize as U.S. citizens receive a Certificate of Naturalization as proof. Persons who obtained U.S. citizenship from a parent may have a Certificate of Citizenship. Each of these documents also includes the date U.S. citizenship was established.

Why Citizenship Date is Important Evidence

In addition to showing that your parent is a U.S. citizen, you must demonstrate the date that he or she became a citizen. The burden of proof is on you, the applicant, to prove you are a U.S. citizen through your parent. In other words, you must be able to provide evidence of these facts. USCIS will not research your parents’ citizenship for you.

If you are claiming citizenship at the time of your birth because your parent was already a citizen, you must show that your parent was a U.S. citizen before your birth. Likewise, if you are claiming citizenship after your birth but before you turned 18 years of age, you must show that your parent became a U.S. citizen before you turned 18.

Recover Birth Certificate

If your parent became a U.S. citizen through birth in the United States, you should provide a copy of his or her birth certificate in the United States when filing Form N-600. When the birth certificate unavailable, it is a fairly simple process to get a copy of one. Contact the County Clerk/Recorder or the State Office of Vital Statistics for the state where you parent was born. There is likely a small fee to obtain the replacement document.

Recover Certificate of Citizenship

If your parent became a U.S. citizen through birth abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) or through parents that naturalized, you may provide a copy of his or her Certificate of Citizenship or other official documentation that indicates the date citizenship was granted. When an original Certificate of Citizenship is unavailable, it can generally be replaced. To obtain an original Certificate of Citizenship, your parent may file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. There is a USCIS fee for the N-565 application. It may take approximately 5-10 months to receive the new certificate.

If your parent has passed away, you cannot file Form N-565 on their behalf. There is a path to obtaining evidence through a FOIA request.

Recover Certificate of Naturalization

If your parent became a U.S. citizen through naturalization, you may provide a copy of his or her Certificate of Naturalization or other official documentation that indicates the date citizenship was granted. When an original Certificate of Naturalization is unavailable, it can generally be replaced. To obtain an original Certificate of Naturalization, your parent may file Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. There is a USCIS fee for the N-565 application. It may take approximately 5-10 months to receive the new certificate.

If your parent has passed away, you cannot file Form N-565 on their behalf. There is a path to obtaining evidence through a FOIA request.

RECOMMENDED: Certificate of Naturalization Replacement Process

Alternative Evidence

When it is not possible to obtain an official Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization for your parent, there may be other options. Your parent can make a request for items in the government’s immigration records. If your parent has passed away, you can also obtain your parent’s immigration file. You can do this by filing Form G-639, Freedom of Information Act Request. It is not a quick process, but there is no USCIS filing fee.

FOIA Request

Individuals may file Form G-639 through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request items in the government records. If your parent is deceased, you will need to submit a death certificate as part of the request. When making the request as alternative evidence for a Certificate of Citizenship, request a copy of your U.S. citizen parent’s “N-600 application and approval.” When making the request as alternative evidence for a Certificate of Naturalization, request a copy of your U.S. citizen parent’s “N-400 application and approval.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will provide a copy of this documentation (assuming it is in the file). You may use this as evidence of your parent’s U.S. citizenship and date that citizenship was granted.

Other Options

If you still find yourself without a means to prove your parent’s U.S. citizenship, please find an immigration attorney that can help analyze your situation.

Source: USCIS