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].

Current as of November 23, 2021