Congratulations on becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States! As a newly naturalized citizen, one of the first things you may want to do is apply for a US passport. A US passport not only serves as a valid identification document but also allows you to travel internationally with ease. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of applying for a US passport after naturalization, providing you with all the necessary information and steps to ensure a smooth application.
Before we dive into the passport application process, let’s quickly understand what naturalization means. Naturalization is the process through which foreign-born individuals become citizens of the United States. It involves fulfilling specific requirements set by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), such as residing in the US as a lawful permanent resident for a certain period, demonstrating good moral character, and passing an English and civics test.
Importance of US Passport for Naturalized Citizens
A US passport holds immense value for naturalized citizens. It serves as a proof of their US citizenship and identity, allowing them to enjoy various rights and privileges, including the ability to vote, obtain government benefits, and travel internationally. Having a US passport can open up a world of opportunities, enabling you to explore different countries and cultures without the need for additional visas.
Eligibility Criteria for Applying for a US Passport
To apply for a US passport after naturalization, you need to fulfill certain eligibility criteria. These criteria include providing proof of US citizenship, proof of identity, and proof of any name changes (if applicable). Let’s take a closer look at each of these requirements.
Proof of US Citizenship
To establish your US citizenship, you will need to submit your Certificate of Naturalization, which you received upon completing the naturalization process. This document serves as legal proof of your US citizenship and will be returned to you with your passport.
Proof of Identity
To prove your identity, you will need to present a valid identification document. This can be a current US driver’s license, a state-issued identification card, a previously issued US passport, or a military identification card. Ensure that the identification document includes your full name, photograph, and signature.
Proof of Name Change (if applicable)
If you have legally changed your name since becoming a naturalized citizen, you will need to provide documentation to support the name change. This can include a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or a court order indicating the name change.
Gathering the Required Documents
Now that you understand the eligibility criteria, it’s time to gather the necessary documents for your passport application. Here are the essential documents you will need:
You will need to submit a copy of your birth certificate as proof of your date and place of birth. If your birth certificate is not in English, you must also provide a certified translation.
Certificate of Naturalization
As mentioned earlier, your Certificate of Naturalization is a crucial document that proves your US citizenship. Ensure that you have the original certificate or a certified copy.
Valid Identification Documents
Choose one of the following identification documents to establish your identity:
- Current US driver’s license
- State-issued identification card
- Previously issued US passport
- Military identification card
You will need to provide recent passport-sized photos. These photos must meet specific requirements regarding size, background color, and facial expression. It’s advisable to have these photos taken by a professional passport photo service to ensure they meet all the necessary criteria.
Social Security Number (if applicable)
If you have been assigned a Social Security Number, it is recommended to include it on your passport application form. While it is not mandatory, providing this information can help with the verification process.
Name Change Documents (if applicable)
If you have legally changed your name, gather the necessary documents, such as a marriage certificate, divorce decree, or court order, to support the name change.
Completing the DS-11 Application Form
The next step in applying for a US passport after naturalization is completing the DS-11 application form. This form is available online and can be filled out electronically or printed and filled out by hand. Here’s a breakdown of the different sections in the form:
Filling Out Personal Information
In this section, you will provide your full name, date of birth, social security number (if applicable), and contact information. Double-check the accuracy of the information you enter to avoid delays or complications.
Providing Citizenship Details
In this section, you will be asked to provide details about your US citizenship, such as the date and place of naturalization. Ensure that you have your Certificate of Naturalization at hand to provide accurate information.
Determining Eligibility for Special Services
This section determines your eligibility for additional services, such as expedited processing or a larger passport book. Review the criteria carefully to see if you qualify for any special services and mark the appropriate boxes if applicable.
Signing and Dating the Form
Once you have completed the form, you will need to sign and date it. Remember to use your current legal signature. If the applicant is a minor, a parent or guardian will need to sign the form on their behalf.
Paying the Application Fee
After completing the application form, you will need to pay the required passport application fee. The fee covers the processing of your application and the production of your passport. Here’s what you need to know:
Accepted Payment Methods
The passport application fee can be paid by check, money order, credit card, or debit card. Ensure that the payment method you choose is acceptable according to the guidelines provided by the Department of State.
Fee Waiver Eligibility (if applicable)
In some cases, you may be eligible for a fee waiver if you can demonstrate financial hardship. To determine if you qualify for a fee waiver, refer to the Department of State’s guidelines and follow the instructions provided.
Scheduling an Appointment at the Acceptance Facility
Once you have completed the application form and paid the fee, the next step is to schedule an appointment at a designated acceptance facility. The acceptance facility will review your application, verify your documents, and accept your passport application package. Here’s what you need to do:
Locating the Nearest Acceptance Facility
Use the Department of State’s passport acceptance facility search tool to find the nearest facility to your location. Enter your ZIP code or city and state to obtain a list of facilities in your area.
Making an Appointment
Call the acceptance facility or use their online appointment scheduling system to book an appointment. It’s advisable to schedule the appointment well in advance to secure your preferred date and time.
Attending the Appointment
On the day of your appointment, make sure you have all the required documents and information with you. Here’s what you should expect during the appointment:
Required Documents to Bring
Bring the following documents to your appointment:
- Completed DS-11 application form
- Proof of US citizenship (Certificate of Naturalization)
- Proof of identity
- Passport-sized photos
- Social Security Number (if applicable)
- Name change documents (if applicable)
Taking the Oath of Allegiance
At the acceptance facility, you will be required to take an oath of allegiance to the United States. This oath is a solemn declaration affirming your loyalty and commitment to the country.
Submitting the Application and Supporting Documents
The acceptance facility personnel will review your application, verify your documents, and accept your passport application package. They will also collect the necessary fees, if applicable. Double-check that all the documents are included and accurately filled out before submitting them.
Expediting the Passport Application (if needed)
If you require your passport urgently, you may be eligible to expedite your application. Here’s what you need to know about expediting the process:
Qualifying for Expedited Service
To qualify for expedited service, you must demonstrate the need for urgent passport processing. Valid reasons for expedited service include upcoming international travel within two weeks or the need to obtain a foreign visa within four weeks.
Additional Fees and Processing Time
Expedited service incurs an additional fee. Be prepared to pay the expedited service fee along with the regular application fee. The processing time for expedited service is generally faster than the standard processing time.
Using a Registered Courier Service
If you require even faster processing, you can use a registered courier service to expedite the delivery of your application. These services offer hand-carry delivery to the passport agency and back, reducing the processing time significantly.
Tracking the Passport Application
Once you have submitted your passport application, you may want to track its progress to stay informed about its status. Here’s how you can track your application:
Using the Online Tracking System
The Department of State provides an online tracking system that allows you to check the status of your passport application. Visit their website and enter the required details, such as your last name, date of birth, and the last four digits of your social security number.
Contacting the National Passport Information Center
If you prefer a more direct approach, you can contact the National Passport Information Center to inquire about your application’s status. They will be able to provide you with the latest information and answer any questions you may have.
Receiving the US Passport
After your application has been processed and approved, your US passport will be mailed to you. The time it takes to receive your passport may vary, but you can typically expect it to arrive within a few weeks. Ensure that you provide a secure and accurate mailing address to avoid any delivery issues.
Applying for a US passport after naturalization is an exciting milestone in your journey as a citizen. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can navigate the application process with ease. Remember to gather all the required documents, complete the application form accurately, pay the fee, and attend your appointment at the acceptance facility. With your US passport in hand, you can embark on new adventures and enjoy the benefits of citizenship.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let our dedicated team help you navigate the path to U.S. citizenship with confidence.
1. Can I apply for a US passport immediately after naturalization? Yes, you can apply for a US passport as soon as you receive your Certificate of Naturalization.
2. Can I use my naturalization certificate as proof of identity when applying for a passport? No, your naturalization certificate establishes your US citizenship but does not serve as proof of identity. You will need to provide a valid identification document.
3. How long does it take to process a passport application after naturalization? The processing time for a passport application after naturalization can vary, but it typically takes a few weeks. Expedited processing is available for those who require their passport urgently.
4. Can I renew my passport online after naturalization? Yes, if you are eligible for passport renewal, you can apply online through the Department of State’s website.
5. Can I travel internationally while my passport application is being processed? Generally, you cannot travel internationally until you receive your passport. However, if you have urgent travel plans, you may be able to apply for an emergency passport on a case-by-case basis. Contact the National Passport Information Center for guidance.