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US citizenship certificate: why is it needed and why an American passport is not enough

An American passport is usually sufficient proof of your US citizenship. But a citizenship certificate may also be needed if you need to show "when" you became a US citizen. Citizen path.

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A US passport is not enough for some purposes. You may need a certificate of citizenship or a certificate of naturalization when trying to apply for certain services and benefits, such as:

  • social Security;
  • driver's license or identity cards;
  • financial assistance to students;
  • employment;
  • passport renewal.

Keeping a certificate of citizenship is a good idea because it does not expire and is direct proof of your citizenship and how it was obtained. USCIS issues a Certificate of Naturalization to permanent residents who have gone through the naturalization process. But individuals who acquire citizenship through their parents usually do not receive a certificate of citizenship. A person must separately apply for it.

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Cases where a US passport may not be enough

1. Update citizenship status in the social security system

Once you become a US citizen, it is recommended that you update your status with the Social Security Administration (SSA). This will give you the benefits:

  • Citizenship status can affect employment opportunities. Some jobs are available only to US citizens. Even if you show your passport to the employer, the problem can still arise. If your records are not updated, the state employment system E-Verify may mark you as a non-citizen.
  • Citizenship status can affect disability benefits. Some disability benefits are available only to US citizens. By changing your civil status with SSA, you are guaranteed to receive all of the disability, retirement, and social security benefits to which you are entitled as a US citizen.

To update your SSA citizenship status, you will need a certificate of citizenship or a certificate of naturalization. To request an update, fill out the form SS-5 and send it in person to the local welfare office.

2. Student Federal Financial Aid

You must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen to receive federal student assistance. Federal student aid may include grants, scholarships, study jobs, and loans. These are important benefits available through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA application requires proof of your citizenship in order to receive these benefits.

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A photocopy of the original Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization may be submitted along with the application. Have the original document in your files in case your school requires you to review it.

3. US Passport Renewal

You are likely to have problems renewing your US passport if you answer "No" to any of the following questions:

  • Do you have a valid US passport?
  • Were you issued a passport at the age of 16 or older?
  • Has it been released within the last 15 years?
  • Does your current passport show your current name or a name that you can document?

If you answer "No" to any of these questions, the process for applying for a new passport is slightly different. You will need to provide additional documents to prove your US citizenship status. This is most easily satisfied with a certificate of citizenship or a certificate of naturalization.

How to apply for a certificate of citizenship

You can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship using Form N-600, Application for a Certificate of Citizenship. When submitting the form N-600 Submit the following to USCIS:

  • Current USCIS registration fee.
  • Passport photographs.
  • Birth certificate .
  • Birth certificate for US citizen parents.
  • Proof that the parent is a US citizen and when it was obtained.

Depending on how the applicant acquired citizenship, additional supporting documents will be required for the application.

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