US Citizenship Form: Do not pay for a form that you can get for free
If you are applying for US citizenship, one of the first things that you have to do is to find the right US citizenship form to begin your application. Some document preparers and unscrupulous businesses try to take advantage of US citizenship applicants by charging high prices for the US citizenship form. The good news is that you are reading this blog post and I am happy to tell you that the US citizenship form is absolutely free.
How to Get the US Citizenship Form for Free?
United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) provides the US citizenship form and all the other immigration forms for free on its website. As long as you have access to a computer, you are able to download the US citizenship form instantly. USCIS no longer mails paper copies of the US citizenship form. If you do not have access to the computer to download the free US citizenship form, you may apply online and totally avoid the need to download the form.
How do I know which US Citizenship form is right for me?
US citizenship law is complex with various changes over the years and clearly, you do not need a US citizenship form if you are already a US citizen. If you were born in the United States or one of its territories, in most cases, you will automatically receive US citizenship. This is called “birthright” citizenship” and is protected by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
If you were born outside of the United States and you are claiming citizenship because you have at least one American citizen parent, then you may need either the N-600k or N-600 US citizenship form. If you are a lawful permanent resident/green card holder and you are applying for US citizenship because you have lived in the United States for a number of years than you will need the N-400 US citizenship form to apply to US citizenship by naturalization.
N-400 -US Citizenship Form for Green Card Holders who are Applying for Citizenship
This is the most popular US citizenship form and approximately 700,000 immigrants become US citizens each year, using this form. Before you file an application for U.S. Citizenship using the N-400 US citizenship form, you have to make sure you qualify.
These are the eligibility requirements:
- You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing (except active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces);
- You must be a permanent resident of the United States for a required period of time;
- You must have lived within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months prior to filing;
- You must have demonstrated physical presence within the United States for a required period of time;
- You must have demonstrated continuous residence for a required period of time;
- You must demonstrate good moral character;
- You must demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution;
- You must demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (also known as “civics”) as well as an ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English; and
- You must take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Some applicants may be eligible for a modified oath.
If the N-400 form is the right US citizenship form for you then you may file the application with the required supporting documents and pay the filing fee. Fee waivers or reduced fees are available for low income applicants. If you read the eligibility requirements and you have questions before you file, then you may speak to an experienced immigration attorney about your case. The N-400 US citizenship form is updated regularly so make sure you are mailing in the latest version of the form or USCIS may reject your application.
N-600 – US Citizenship Form- For Applicants who are Already US Citizens & Need Proof
Form N-600 is an application for a Certificate of Citizenship form. You are not seeking to acquire U.S. Citizenship when you use this form. You are already a citizen of the United States and the Certificate is evidence that you are a citizen.
You will use this application if:
- You were born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent; or
- You automatically became a citizen of the United States after birth, but before you turned 18 years of age.
If you were born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen parent your claim to US citizenship will depend on many factors. The year you were born, whether your parents were married at the time of your birth and the citizenship law at that time will determine if you acquired citizenship automatically. There may also be residency requirements that your US citizenship parent will need to meet regarding your citizenship claim.
Some N-600 cases are straightforward and the applicant or a legal guardian filing on behalf of the applicant is able to manage this application without an attorney. Other cases are not so clear cut and you may choose to consult with an experienced immigration attorney about this matter.
The Child Status Protection Act that came into effect in the year 2002 made it a lot easier for some lawful permanent resident children to gain US citizenship when their parents naturalized. If you are a green card holder and your foreign born child under 18 years old, is living with you and the child is also a lawful permanent resident, the child becomes a US citizen on the day that you are sworn in as a US citizen. You may apply for the child’s Certificate of Citizenship using US citizenship form N-600. Not everyone that applies using US citizenship form N-600 is given a Certificate of Citizenship. Unfortunately, some of these applications are denied. If you received a denial of the application, you may choose to consult an experienced immigration attorney to help fight the denial.
N-600K- US Citizenship Form for Application for Citizenship
Some children of US citizens are born abroad but are not automatically citizens of the United States and must apply and prove their claim of US citizenship. This is where the N-600 US citizenship form differs from the N-600k form. With the N-600, you are not trying to prove that you are a US citizen. You are already a US citizen and want the certificate to use as evidence that you are a US citizen. If you are using the N-600k US citizenship form, it means that you are not a citizen and are applying to become one. The N-600K form is for children of US citizens who are born abroad and regularly reside outside of the United States. You should not file the N-600k US citizenship form if the child is over 18. Only a US citizen parent, a US citizen grandparent or US citizen legal guardian may file this form, but not the child.
Before you file US citizenship form N-600k, check these eligibility requirements:
- The child regularly resides outside the United States;
- The child is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
- The child’s U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for a period or periods totaling at least five years, at least two of which were after 14 years of age. If the U.S. citizen parent does not meet this requirement, the U.S. citizen parent’s own U.S. citizen parent (grandparent) has to have been physically present in the United States for a period or periods totaling at least five years, at least two of which were after 14 years of age. In cases where the U.S. citizen parent died in the preceding five years, and Form N-600K has been properly filed on behalf of the child by the U.S. citizen grandparent or by the U.S. citizen legal guardian, the child does NOT have to be residing in the legal and physical custody of the person as long as the person who has legal and physical custody of the child does not object to the Form N-600K; and
- The child is temporarily present in the United States at the time of interview in a lawful status pursuant to a lawful admission.
The child will need to attend the interview in the United States. The child will need to enter the United States lawfully with either a visa, visa waiver if he/she is from an eligible country, or by other lawful means. It is also possible to acquire US citizenship, using US citizenship form N-600k, through a grandparent if the US citizen parent has not lived in the United Sates for the required amount of time. This may be a complicated process and it is highly recommended that you speak to an immigration attorney if you have a claim to US citizenship through a grandparent.
About the Author
Cheryl Fletcher Esq., is the Founder and CEO of Fletcher Law Office, P.A., an award winning immigration law firm located in West Palm Beach, FL. She has helped hundreds of clients obtain US citizenship.