How to Check Citizenship

By Andrea Farkas - Updated April 09, 2017
Happy young woman holding an American flag

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Various federal and state agencies can verify a person's citizenship or naturalization status. You can check your own status or the status of an employee, if you are an employer, by requesting the most common authenticated documents: birth certificates, passports, naturalization certificates and certificates of citizenship. If you do not have these documents, you can request copies from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or your birth state's Department of Vital Statistics – your specific circumstances will determine the appropriate agency to contact.

Born Inside United States

If you were born in the United States, you can request a copy of your birth certificate from your birth state's Department of Vital Statistics. Alternatively, you can acquire a passport through the Department of State; this form of identification is recognized worldwide as proof of United States citizenship.

Born Outside United States

If you were not born on U.S. soil, you might already be a citizen or eligible for naturalization. First, if you are uncertain about your status, you can contact the Department of State. You can also check the status of a citizenship application through an online Self Check system offered by USCIS. This is a free service and immediately returns information about work eligibility and status. Next, depending on your circumstances, you can request either a Certificate of Naturalization or Certificate of Citizenship. If you were born to a U.S. citizen outside of the United States, you are automatically a U.S. citizen; thus, you can request a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS. This serves as proof of your citizenship. Alternatively, if you immigrated to the United States, you can request a Certificate of Naturalization; if your naturalization application is pending, USCIS can verify its status upon request.

Checking Citizenship Status of Employees

You can verify an employee or potential employee's citizenship by visiting the USCIS website and enrolling in its E-Verify program. Once enrolled, you can enter the person's information as presented on Form I-9, and the system will compare that information against U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records. The system will verify the employee or potential employee's claims of citizenship or naturalization, and prompt you if the information entered does not match federal records.

About the Author

Andrea Farkas has been writing since 2005. Her legal article appears in the "Texas Tech Estate Planning" and "Community Property Law Journal." Farkas graduated from Texas A&M University and earned her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.

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