Understanding the N-400 vs. the N-600: Navigating Complex Citizenship

close-up of n-400 form

If you're looking to become a U.S. citizen and currently hold a green card, the N-400 form is likely your route. To be eligible for naturalization, you must meet the following criteria: 

1. Valid Green Card: You must have had your green card for at least five years, or three years if you're married to a U.S. citizen. 

2. Lawfully Obtained Green Card: Your green card must be legally acquired. 

3. Age Requirement: You must be over 18 years old. 

4. Good Moral Character: You need to demonstrate good moral character, such as no serious criminal convictions and compliance with court orders. 

5. Physical Presence: You must meet various physical presence requirements, typically not having left the U.S. for extended periods of over 180 days. 

6. English Language Test: You must pass a basic English language test, with some exceptions. 

7. Civics Test: You need to pass a U.S. history and civics test. 

8.  Oath of Allegiance: Finally, you must be willing to swear loyalty to the U.S. at the oath ceremony. 

N-600: Proving Existing Citizenship 

The N-600 form is used to request a Certificate of Citizenship if you are already a U.S. citizen but need official documentation. This scenario typically applies if you acquired or derived citizenship through your parents. 

Acquisition of Citizenship: 

- If you were born in the U.S., you are a citizen by birthright. 

- If you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, you might have acquired citizenship at birth. 

Derivation of Citizenship: 

- If you were under 18, held a green card, and your parents naturalized, you might have derived citizenship through them. 

Understanding these nuances is crucial. If you believe you might have acquired or derived citizenship, consulting with an immigration lawyer can help clarify your status and determine the appropriate form to file. 

How We Can Help 

Our firm is dedicated to assisting you through every step of the immigration process. Whether you need help with naturalization via the N-400 or obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship with the N-600, we are here to guide you. We're committed to winning 10,000 immigration cases by 2035, and we would love your case to be one of them.  Feel free to call our Oakland immigration attorneys at 510-488-1020 to book a consult today!