How to Check Citizenship

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It is relatively simple to check a person's citizenship status. An employer may do this by requesting the most common authenticated documents from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A prospective employee can use the online Self-Check system offered by USCIS to check on their status.

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 your employee does not have these documents, they 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 – their 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.

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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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