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Chapter 3 - Certificate of Naturalization

A. Eligibility for Certificate of Naturalization

An applicant submits to USCIS an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) along with supporting evidence to establish eligibility for naturalization. The application must be submitted in accordance with the form instructions and with appropriate fee.[1] The applicant must establish that he or she has met all of the pertinent naturalization eligibility requirements for issuance of a Certificate of Naturalization.[2]

B. Contents of Certificate of Naturalization

1. Information about the Applicant

The Certificate of Naturalization contains certain required information identifying the person and confirming his or her U.S. citizenship through naturalization. Specifically, the Certificate of Naturalization contains:

  • USCIS registration number (A-number);

  • Complete name;

  • Marital status;

  • Place of residence;

  • Country of former nationality;[3]

  • Photograph;

  • Signature of applicant; and

  • Other descriptors: sex, date of birth, and height

2. Additional Information on Certificates of Naturalization

  • Certificate number;

  • Statement by the USCIS Director indicating that the applicant complied with all the eligibility requirements for naturalization under the laws of the United States;

  • Date of issuance, which is the date the holder became a U.S. citizen through naturalization; and

  • DHS seal and Director’s signature as the authority under which the certificate is issued.[4]

3. Changes to Names per Court Order

Change of Legal Name on Certificate of Naturalization

In general, a Certificate of Naturalization includes an applicant’s full legal name as the name appears on the applicant’s Form N-400.[5] Before naturalization, the applicant may present a valid court order or other proof that the applicant has legally changed his or her name in the manner authorized by the law of the applicant’s place of residence. If the applicant submits such evidence, then USCIS will issue the Certificate of Naturalization in the new name. 

If a naturalized individual changes his or her legal name after naturalizing, the individual may file an Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (Form N-565), together with the required fees and proof of the legal change of name. However, USCIS is prohibited from making any changes to an applicant’s name on a Certificate of Naturalization if the applicant now claims that the name sworn to during the naturalization process was not his or her correct name, unless the applicant obtains a legal name change as described above.[6]

C. Issuance of Certificate of Naturalization

In general, USCIS issues a Certificate of Naturalization after an officer approves the Application for Naturalization and the applicant has taken the Oath of Allegiance.[7] USCIS will not issue a Certificate of Naturalization to a person who has not surrendered his or her Permanent Resident Card (PRC) or Alien Registration Card (ARC) evidencing the person’s lawful permanent residence. If the person established that his or her card was lost or destroyed, USCIS may waive the requirement of surrendering the card.[8]

An applicant is not required to take the Oath of Allegiance or appear at the oath ceremony if USCIS waives the oath requirement due to the applicant’s medical disability. In these cases, USCIS issues the certificate in person or by certified mail to the person or his or her legal guardian, surrogate, or designated representative.[9]


[^ 1] See 8 CFR 103.7.

[^ 2] See the relevant Volume 12 part for the specific eligibility requirements pertaining to the particular citizenship or naturalization provision, to include Part D, General Naturalization Requirements [12 USCIS-PM D], Part G, Spouses of U.S. Citizens [12 USCIS-PM G]; and Part I, Military Members and their Families [12 USCIS-PM I].

[^ 3] Applicants with Taiwan passports may indicate Taiwan as country of nationality on their Form N-400 (Taiwan passports show “Republic of China”). Such applicants’ Certificates of Naturalization are issued showing Taiwan as country of former nationality. USCIS does not issue certificates showing “Taiwan, PRC,” “Taiwan, China,” “Taiwan, Republic of China,” or “Taiwan, ROC.” People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the country name used for applicants with PRC passports.

[^ 4] See INA 338. See 8 CFR 338.

[^ 5] A full legal name includes the person’s first name, middle name(s) (if any), and family name (or surname) without any initials or nicknames. See 6 CFR 37.3; Real ID Act of 2005, Pub. L. 109-1349 U.S.C. 30301.

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 338.5(e).

[^ 7] See INA 338. See 8 CFR 338.

[^ 8] See 8 CFR 338.3. The requirement to surrender the PRC or ARC does not apply to applicants naturalizing under INA 329 who qualify for naturalization without being permanent residents.

[^ 9] See Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 3, Oath of Allegiance Modifications and Waivers [12 USCIS-PM J.3].


Legal Authorities

INA 310(b)(4) - Naturalization authority and issuance of certificates

INA 310, 8 CFR 310 - Naturalization authority

INA 332(e), 8 CFR 332 - Issuance of certificates of citizenship and naturalization

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions

INA 338, 8 CFR 338 - Contents and issuance of certificate of naturalization


Appendix: History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Before October 29, 2019, USCIS considered children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees, who were stationed outside of the United States, to meet the requirement of “is residing in” the United States for the purpose of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.[1] This interpretation was consistent with the definition of “residence” for purposes of naturalization under INA 316.[2] Based on this treatment of U.S. government employees and their children in the context of naturalization under INA 316, USCIS determined that “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquisition of citizenship under INA 320 should likewise be interpreted to include children of U.S. military and government employees stationed outside of the United States who were residing with their parents.[3]

This interpretation, however, was inconsistent with other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including the definition of “residence” at INA 101(a)(33) and language in INA 322(a) and INA 322(d), which suggested that the citizenship of military children residing outside of the United States should be considered under that provision rather than under INA 320. Effective October 29, 2019, USCIS amended its policy guidance to address these concerns, and determined that children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees stationed outside of the United States would not be eligible for citizenship acquisition under INA 320.[4]

On March 26, 2020, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act was enacted,[5] amending INA 320, so that a child residing with his or her U.S. citizen parent, who is stationed outside of the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee, or is residing in marital union with a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States, acquires citizenship under INA 320 if all requirements of INA 320(c) and INA 320(a)(1)-(2) are met. In line with the statute, USCIS rescinds its previous guidance, clarifying that these children are eligible to acquire citizenship under INA 320 if all other requirements under INA 320 are met.

The amendment to INA 320 applies to children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.


[^ 1] Even though the child of a member of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employee stationed outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship under INA 322 since he or she resides outside of the United States, USCIS interpreted the child to meet residency requirements under INA 320 as well, which formerly required the child to be residing in the United States with his or her parent to acquire citizenship.

[^ 2] For example, U.S. government employees, including members of the U.S. armed forces, are eligible to apply for an exception to the continuous residence requirement for naturalization under INA 316 as long as their residency outside of the United States was on behalf of the U.S. government. See INA 316(b). See INA 316(a). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3].

[^ 3] See Policy Manual Technical Update, Child Citizenship Act and Children of U.S. Government Employees Residing Abroad (July 20, 2015); and Acquisition of Citizenship by Children of U.S. Military and Government Employees Stationed Abroad under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), No. 103, issued May 6, 2004.

[^ 4] See USCIS Policy Alert, Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship [PA-2019-05] (PDF, 308.45 KB). This Policy Alert has been superseded by Policy Manual updates to reflect changes made under Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF).

[^ 5] See Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF) (March 26, 2020).


Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

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