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Getting Naturalized and Getting Home

Posted on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We are pleased to introduce the first in a new series of occasional guest blog entries by organizations providing information that may be helpful to immigrants.

By Laurie Lee, Swift Passport Services, LLC

Congratulations to the newly naturalized American citizen!

You received your naturalization papers, survived fingerprinting and a multitude of fees, passed FBI immigrant citizenship naturalization travelclearance, passed your naturalization interview, turned in your green card, and took the Oath of Allegiance. You are now an American with Naturalization papers ready to visit your country of origin for the first time in maybe a really long time. What next?

Step 1. Sign Your Certificate of Naturalization

If you previously signed the photograph that is mounted to your Certificate of Naturalization, then sign your certificate using the exact same signature you used to sign your photograph, even if that signature does not match the full name shown on your certificate. This is your new legal signature, so make sure you are prepared to use this signature forever. The Department of State recommends that you adopt a signature without abbreviations and sign your name the exact way your name appears on your naturalization papers.

naturalization citizenship certificateStep 2. Copy and Store your Naturalization Certificate

We recommend that you make at least one backup copy of your Certificate of Naturalization and store it in a secure and different place than your original. The bottom left hand corner of your Certificate of Naturalization reads, "IT IS PUNISHABLE BY U.S. LAW TO COPY, PRINT, OR PHOTOGRAPH THIS CERTIFICATE, WITHOUT LAWFUL AUTHORITY." You have lawful authority to make backup copies of your certificate in case it is lost, damaged, or stolen. Since you turn in your green card at the naturalization ceremony, your Certificate of Naturalization is all you have to prove your right to live and work in America. It is very expensive to replace the original. Store it somewhere very safe!

Step 3. Get a US Passport

citizenship passport travelThe next important step is to get a U.S. passport. Here are compelling reasons to obtain a passport sooner rather than later:

1.   It is an alternate form of legal proof of US citizenship. Ideally, you will want to store your Naturalization certificate and use the passport as your primary form of proof of U.S. citizenship. Every time you remove your certificate from your safe deposit box or home safe you run the risk of damaging or losing your only proof of US citizenship and your right to live in this country. Do not put yourself in this vulnerable position!

2.   Passports are an alternative form of picture ID. You can travel domestically and internationally with a passport.

3.   You cannot fly internationally at all right now until you get a passport. If you still have family abroad, how will you leave the USA to see them in the event of an emergency? It can take 4-6 weeks to obtain a passport. Get one now so that you are prepared to leave in the event of an emergency. The U.S Department of State recommends that all U.S. citizens with family living abroad have a valid passport so that they can leave and return to the U.S. in the event of an emergency.

How to Obtain a Passport

1. To Obtain a passport in 4-6 weeks, visit your local post office, county clerk, or city clerk for forms and instructions or visit travel.state.gov for complete instructions.

2. To obtain your passport in less than 4-6 weeks, use a passport expediting service such as Swift Passport Services. They can expedite your passport in as little as 1 business day for an expedited fee. Visit Swift Passport at http://www.swiftpassportservices.com, or call 877.917.9438 for details.

Congratulations to you!

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