Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Citizenship by operation of law’

27th October 2010

It recently came to this author’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has promulgated a new Naturalization Certificate. The new document has enhanced security features and is updated in order to comport with current law. To quote directly from a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced it has begun issuing a redesigned, more secure Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550) as part of its ongoing efforts to enhance the integrity of the immigration system. The agency anticipates that over 600,000 new citizens will receive the enhanced certificate over the next year.

It really can seem rather astounding that the United States grants citizenship to so many people each year as there are many countries throughout the world that do not take in immigrants at nearly the rate of the United States. Furthermore, of the countries that admit immigrants it would seem that the United States is more eager to grant citizenship to those who have obeyed the immigration laws and sought naturalization through the proper channels.

The aforementioned press release went on to note some frequently asked questions posed by those interested in the U.S. Naturalization process:

Q1. What is a Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550)?
A1. The Certificate of Naturalization serves as evidence of your citizenship. You receive it after taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Citizenship qualifies you to vote and travel with a U.S. passport, among other rights. In many instances, a Certificate of Naturalization is accepted as a valid form of identification.


Q2. Why did USCIS redesign the naturalization certificate?
A2. The previous Certificates of Naturalization featured hard-copy photos of the candidates. The redesigned certificate features the naturalization candidate’s digitized photo and signature embedded into the base document. Eliminating the requirement to affix the hard-copy photo and hand-stamp the USCIS director’s signature cuts cost in man-hours and improves security.


Q3. What’s different about the new certificates?
A3. The naturalization candidate’s digitized photo and signature are embedded in the security-enhanced certificate. Its background features a color-shifting ink pattern that is difficult to recreate. Additionally, USCIS will use a more secure printing process, making it more tamper-proof.


Q4. When will USCIS issue the security-enhanced naturalization certificates?
A4. USCIS will begin using redesigned certificates at all offices beginning today. USCIS offices in Atlanta, Denver and Baltimore will begin to utilize the automated production process this week, including digitizing photos and signatures on all certificates. USCIS will deploy the automated production system agency-wide by the end of the calendar year.


Q5. Following the agency-wide transition to the new document, will all new citizens receive redesigned naturalization certificates with digitized photos?
A5. While all new citizens will receive the redesigned, security-enhanced certificate, certain, limited categories of naturalization candidates, including overseas military and homebound candidates, will receive documents with hard-copy photos affixed to their certificates.


Q6. I’ve already obtained a Certificate of Naturalization. Will I have to apply for the redesigned security-enhanced version?
A6. No. All previously issued Certificates of Naturalization will remain valid.

Q7. How does the issuance of the redesigned naturalization certificate impact applicants?
A7. The issuance of the redesigned Certificate of Naturalization will not impact Application for Naturalization (N-400) processing times. USCIS Application Support Centers (ASCs) will still require applicants to submit their fingerprints and two hard-copy photos. The ASCs will also capture a digital photograph and digital signature for each N-400 applicant.


Q8. If ASCs will capture digital photos of N-400 applicants, why must applicants still provide hard-copy photos?
A8. The hard-copy photos will be required as a back-up in case of unforeseen issues, allowing them to continue their naturalization process without delay.


Q9. Will USCIS update any of its other certificates?
A9. Yes. USCIS intends to digitize its other citizenship-related certificates, but no completion dates have been set.


Q10. Will the wording of the naturalization certificate change?
A10. Yes. USCIS has revised the wording to better reflect the current provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. In particular, obsolete language stating that the candidate resides in the United States and “intends to reside in the United States when so required by the Naturalization laws of the United States” has been removed. These changes affect the form of the certificate only and do not alter any legal requirements for naturalization or USCIS application processing.

This author found it interesting to note that the FAQ’s quoted above mentioned that other citizenship documentation may be updated soon. It remains to be seen whether or not the Certificate of Citizenship, which signifies US Citizenship, but for those who are Citizens not by naturalization, but through either some extraneous set of circumstances of by operation of law; will be enhanced to safeguard against fraud. Certificates of Citizenship are likely to be more common in the future particularly since the promulgation of the Child Citizenship Act, but it remains to be seen how the Certificate of Citizenship might be upgraded.

Naturalization to United States Citizenship is a serious undertaking and those interested in becoming United States Citizens should research the process thoroughly in an effort to understand the requirements and ramifications of United States Citizenship. Hopefully, this new Naturalization Certificate will result in increased security in the form of more tamper resistant documentation.

Fore related information please see: USCIS processing time, Child Citizenship Act, or Legal.

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1st March 2010

Those going through the US visa process may be aware of the I-864 affidavit of support. This document is used in order for the United States government to receive assurance that the prospective immigrant will not become a public charge in the United States. In family based immigrant visa cases involving visas such as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 visa the I-864 is used. The I-864 should not be confused with the I-134 affidavit of support which is often utilized by those seeking either a K1 visa or a K3 Visa. However, at the time of this writing, it is highly likely that use of the I-134 in K-3 cases will fall by the wayside as fewer K-3 visa applications will be forwarded on to US Embassies and Consulates abroad due to the administrative closure of new K-3 applications at the National Visa Center. That being said, non-immigrant dual intent travel documents such as the K1 fiance visa and the K3 marriage visa do not use the I-864, but use the I-134.

There are certain Immigrant visas which do not utilize the I-864 as the affidavit of support requirement is waived. These type of cases require the submission of the I-864w. To quote the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in their own instructions for the form itself:

“The Form I-864 is legally required for many family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and that they are not likely to become a public charge. Certain classes of immigrants are exempt from the I-864 requirement and therefore must file Form I-864W instead of Form I-864 or Form I-864EZ.”

Under the Child Citizenship Act of the year 2000, there are certain children who enter the United States and become United States Citizens by operation of law upon admission at a port of entry by the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP). These children may then apply for a certificate of citizenship which is somewhat similar to a naturalization certificate except for the fact that the child is not naturalized, but a citizen statutorily. In cases where the child would become a citizen upon entry, the obligations incurred by an I-864 would automatically extinguish upon entry since the child would be a US Citizen. Therefore, the need to adjudicate means of support are made somewhat redundant. This may be the policy reason underlying the promulgation of the I-864w.

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