How Long Will the N-600 Application Process Take?

The N-600 application will take a few months before approval. Here's how to stay on top of it, and avoid trouble.

Form N-600 is the application issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allowing a person who is automatically eligible for U.S. citizenship based on the citizenship or naturalization of his or her parent to request a certificate proving that fact.

Along with filling out the form, the applicant must provide proof of credentials and pay a fee. According to current USCIS procedures, applicants file the application with a local USCIS field office (the kind you can actually visit in person).

If you have discovered that you're a U.S. citizen based on your parents' citizenship, you're probably eager to get your certificate and enjoy the rights and privileges of citizenship right away. However, this will not happen overnight. USCIS is typically very busy with applications, and needs time to review your application, possibly request follow-up materials from you, and make a decision.

The typical turnaround time is a few months, but you can get a more accurate estimate by visiting the USCIS website.

Checking on Typical Processing Times at Your Local USCIS Office

If you'd like to find out how long your local USCIS field office usually takes to make a decision on an N-600, go to the USCIS Web page called USCIS Processing Time Information.

Select the name of your local USCIS office from the "Field Office" drop-down menu, then click "Field Office Processing Dates." Look for "N-600" in the box shown, and you'll see a time estimate in months, such as "5 months."

Checking on the Status of Your Own Case

If you are given a receipt notice with a tracking number, you can go to the My Case Status page of the USCIS website.

There, you enter the receipt number, and will be told which step your application has reached. If processing on your application seems to be long finished, but you haven't heard anything from USCIS; or if you did not receive a receipt notice and more months have gone by than is typical; you should visit USCIS to ask what's going on.

In order to do this, you will first need to make an INFOPASS appointment using the USCIS website. Be sure to bring a photo id and copies of the application you filed, as well as any evidence of its arrival (such as a postal receipt or copy of your cancelled check) to your appointment.

Applying for a U.S. Passport

If you qualify for a certificate of U.S. citizenship, then you also qualify for a U.S. passport. Remember, by using form N-600, you're not asking USCIS to grant you citizenship; you are simply requesting a certificate to prove that citizenship is already yours. So in theory, you don't need to wait for USCIS's answer to approach the U.S. State Department and ask for a passport.

In practice, however, getting a U.S. passport without first having a certificate of citizenship may be difficult. The U.S. State department is less accustomed to figuring out who has acquired or derived citizenship than USCIS is. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying for a passport without waiting, particularly if you are short on time. Go to the State Department website for information on how to apply for a U.S. passport.

When to See a Lawyer

Filing for a certificate of citizenship may not be as difficult as some of the other immigration forms and processes. However, determining whether someone qualifies for U.S. citizenship, and therefore for this certificate, may be another matter. If you have trouble understanding whether or not you qualify, or you are having difficulty gathering the required documentation or getting a timely - and favorable - decision from USCIS, consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney.

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