Getting a Naturalization Certificate

Determine if an ancestor was ever naturalized and, if so, discuss your consulate's requirements for proving this.

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Getting a Naturalization Certificate

Postby Jim » Thu Aug 03, 2006 5:30 pm

Nine months ago I sent a FOIA request to the INS located in Lee’s Summit Misouri for a CERTIFIED copy of my grandfather’s Naturalization certificate. After nine months, and a few phone calls to them, someone was finally able to tell me that they don’t issue certified copies from there, and that I would have to contact the Washington office. Someone there sent me a letter saying that I would have to reapply to them. I spoke to the person in charge of records there, though, and he told me that they could only issue a certified copy if I had the original (which, if I had, I wouldn’t be going through all this!) He told me I would have to get a certified copy through the INS in Chicago, my town. After not finding anyone there who knew anything (and for the most part not even getting to speak to a real person, I called the Lee’s Summit office back. They now tell me that I have to wait until the send me the non-certified copy and then take it to the Chicago office, where they will give me a certified copy, if they have a ‘status verifier’ working there, which they might not. I was also told that I would have to file an N565 with the Chicago office and the process would take 4-16 months.

My question is, what am I supposed to do? Has anyone else had this problem? Has anyone received a certified copy of a Naturalization Certificate? If so, how did you do it? I’m at my wit’s end and would appreciate anything you could tell me.
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Postby mcincone » Fri Aug 04, 2006 9:41 am

Hi Jim -

My experience was painless. I live in NYC and knew that my ancestor entered though Ellis Island. I walked down to the regional National Archives (10 min walk), used their computers for free, got the info, they copied the record for me, certified it, and I went back to work. It took all of 30 minutes.

I'm not sure exactly where you live but find the nearest NARA location that has an archival research room. http://www.archives.gov/locations/ (Missouri's is in Kansas City). They are very knowledgable and helpful. If you can't walk out with it, they will help you obtain the certified copy. It cost me a few cents for the copies and (I forget the exact amount) about $5 for the certification.

Good Luck
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Postby Em » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:09 am

I did the same, and they are absolutely great BUT you won't get a Certificate of Naturalization this way, only the Petition, Declaration of Intent, and Oath of Allegience.
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Postby mcincone » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:28 pm

oh shit.... :(
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Postby mcincone » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:02 pm

So I guess I'm a little nervous now.

Em- I have the certified copy of the forms from NARA. Will that be enough for us in NYC?

I will apply for the record from USCIS just in case but I'm not sure if it will get here by Sept. 1 when my appointment with the consulate is......I'm trying to do everything as fast as I can....I've been very impatient.

m
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Postby Giuseppe » Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:47 pm

This is the same thing that I’m going through. You need to take all of the information you have and send a request for a certified copy to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ATTN: Records Services Branch, 111 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, 4th Floor, Washington, DC 20529.

Apparently the time for them to process a request is approximately one year. Good luck.

Giuseppe
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Postby Jim » Sun Aug 06, 2006 2:42 pm

Hi all. Thanks for your replies. I actually have the certified copies of the Declaration of intention, Petition for Citizenship and Oath of allegiance. The problem is getting a certified copy of the Naturalization Certificate. As far as the Washington office, I spoke to the guy in charge of records there and he told me that they only gave certified copies if you have the original. This, again, is the problem. You can send in a request and wait a year only to find out that they don’t issues certified copies (as was the case with the office in Lee’s Summit Missouri. The problem is that nobody in these offices is willing or able to give you a straight answer and so you send in the request and find out, a year latter, that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree. I’ll think I’ll go directly to the Chicago office of the INS and try to speak to someone directly.
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Postby Giuseppe » Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:00 pm

I wonder if the consulate will accept a non-certified copy of the naturalization certificate with a letter from US CIS explaining that they do not issue certified copies of the document without the original, accompanied by certified copies of the other immigration documents.

That they are refusing to issue a certified copy of the document raises some questions, however. I’m told that 700,000 people have had their right to Italian citizenship recognized. I would think it highly unlikely that they all had original copies of their relative’s naturalization certificates. They were able to get a certified copy from somewhere. And, the CIS (INS) is the only agency able to do that. Has there been a policy change at the agency? Also, do you have the name and telephone number of the person in Washington DC you spoke with?


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Postby Em » Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:01 pm

mcincone,

When I was at the NY consulate in April, I showed the guy the declaration of intent and the oath (the ones I got at NARA). He took a quick look to be sure the date of naturaliation was written on the oath and then told me that they would do.

For the information of those applying through Newark, the Oath works there as well.

I hope you guys aren't as nervous as I am. I'm still holding my breath waiting for my own birth certificate. My appt. is in three weeks with a backup date in September.

(BTW, m, there is no way in hell you would ever get anything from USCIS by September 1, unless you're talking 2007. Aren't you glad you're applying in NY. :D )

Good luck to all.

Em
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Postby mcincone » Mon Aug 07, 2006 9:29 am

Em - I am definitely breathing easier now. phew!
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Postby rscafuro » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:12 pm

mcincone and Em...

I am also applying in NY, and the only thing I still need is a naturalization certificate. Where did you guys go to get those copies? You are only able to get the declaration of intent and the oath, but you think they should be ok in NY, correct? I think I might send a FOIA request to DC too, but waiting a year for them to get back to you is a little unsettling.

Thanks for your time...

Ryan
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Postby rscafuro » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:28 pm

Crap, I just realized that even though my great grandfather came in through ellis island... he was naturalized much later and I'm pretty sure it was in Jersey. Well, they might still have the records.

Also, did you guys know about the ellis island website? It's free and a fun way of tracking ancestors coming into the country.

http://www.ellisisland.org/
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Postby Em » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:32 pm

Ryan,

I was in the NY office in April, and they are ok with the Petition, Declaration of Intent and Oath. The date of naturalization is written on the oath.

You can get these forms in the NY office of NARA, which I believe services NJ as well. They are located on Varick Street in lower Manhattan, and if you go in personally, they'll certify them for you within an hour. For more information:

http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/
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Postby rscafuro » Mon Aug 14, 2006 7:46 pm

Thank you very much Em. I do believe they might service NJ also, but if not I found out that the County Clerks office in the County where my greatgrandfather was naturalized (Bergen) should have those records also, and should be able to certify them as well. I'll try NARA first, they're certification is probably more official seeing that it is a federal department.

Another question... how long after you scheduled the appointment with the consulate was the actual date of the appointment? Is there anything that I should know about that isn't made clear from their website?

Thanks again for your help!
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Postby Em » Mon Aug 14, 2006 9:19 pm

To give you a sense of it, I called about three weeks ago because I was a bit worried that I would not have my own birth certificate in time for my end-of-August appointment.

I asked for another appointment in September and was offered one for just about every week in September. She even allowed me to keep my August date in case my papers arrived in time. So, no, there's no problem getting appointments.

Nothing else to tell you because I think everyone's experience is a bit different. I would say, however, that on the whole, they are more flexible in person than the website seems to indicate. All in all, one of the better consulates to deal with.
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