I lost my naturalization certificate. What to do?
August 8, 2018 3:54 PM   Subscribe

I lost my naturalization certificate. Considering USCIS are pretty moody lately, should I file for a duplicate or should I wait it out until 2020?

So I am pretty absentminded and tend to lose important stuff all the time. For a few months now I haven't been able to find my naturalization certificate (I am an idiot). Part of me feels that it is somewhere in my house. I have never taken it anywhere, but for the life of me I cannot find it. My husband and I have looked everywhere. This sort of stuff happens to me all the time, and I fear I might have thrown it away by accident or something.

In an alternative universe, I would simply file to petition a copy of my naturalization certificate and that's that. But with the way things are now, I am worried that filing a request for a copy will somehow flag my record. My concern is that the USCIS reviewer might think my story is too stupid to be true, or that they will say hey we found some technicality and you actually never qualified to adjust! I don't know, I fear they might come up with some Kafka style shenanigans and deport me.

I am nervous because with the new administration I would prefer to keep a low profile. I have never used food stamps or any sort of social program (I heard they are cracking down on people who did). My citizenship is based on marriage to a US citizen, which is 100% legitimate (we have been married for around a decade now and we are very much in love).

Part of me thinks, well, things might look different after 2020 so maybe I should just wait. But then I think...what if things get worse? What if it's foolish to wait?

I think I have a good understanding of the legal processes related to this. I am a little weary of discussing this with friends so I think I need to hear how you would approach this situation. Personal opinions are welcome.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would be more worried about some scenario where you needed to "prove" your naturalization and didn't have the copy. Of course, technically you should be "in the system" and unlike with permanent residents I'm not aware of any legal duty to have proof of naturalization, but given that even citizens have been swept up by ICE...
posted by thefoxgod at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2018 [6 favorites]

If you happen to already have a US passport it would serve as good proof of your status and reduce cause for concern.
posted by exogenous at 5:09 PM on August 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Welcome to the mugged by USCIS club.

I inexplicably lost my green card and noticed it in February and filed for a replacement. $540 owie and a day of missed work to get my bio-metrics verified. Got the replacement a couple of weeks ago.

So much anxiety! However they didn't give a shit about any story or anything. Just replaced after a long long delay.

The upside is that I now get to tell everyone yet another way the United States abuses immigrants every chance I get.
posted by srboisvert at 6:26 PM on August 8, 2018

As noted above, you only need your naturalization certificate if you don't have a US passport.

If you don't have a US passport, it seems like being stuck without any kind of proof of citizenship puts you in a more precarious situation than filing for a replacement.
posted by yonglin at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2018

i think it would depend a lot on stuff like your whiteness level, the relative visible ethnicity of your last name, and your country of origin. if you are bob jones, white guy from swansea, i wouldn't hestiate to simply go ahead and get a new one. but if you are of a race, ethnicity, or national origin that is commonly subjected to profiling in airports then i personally would not draw any unnecessary attention to yourself.
posted by poffin boffin at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

Do you have a job where you needed to prove citizenship and thus, HR might have a copy or some sort of documentation?
posted by inevitability at 7:26 PM on August 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

To my mind they are more likely to deport you for not having it than having it and things are going to get worse before they get better & you want every damn document proving your status you can find. If you don't have a US passport you want to get both ASAP. Also make sure you have copies of your marriage certificate somewhere safe.

I've done up what I call my ICE pack, any documents I can think of that prove I'm legally here safely locked away in a lock box in my house along with copies of them in an envelope I locked away in my in laws lock box in case for some reason my husband or I can't get to the originals in my own house they can bring them to us. Yes I know I'm paranoid, but people are disappearing, kids are being put in concentration camps while there is no reason why they should drag me away as I'm here 100% legally if certain people are in power another 6 years I can't trust that they won't.

Again this is my take on it, but I'm a paranoid control freak that documents everything so make of it what you will.
posted by wwax at 7:39 PM on August 8, 2018 [10 favorites]

Hm, I favorited inevitabilty's comment in agreement, but then started to think that it might not be a good idea to make it known to your employer that you currently are not in possession of your legal proof of right to work.

You might consider consulting your attorney for their take on the best course of action.
posted by vignettist at 8:18 PM on August 8, 2018

If you happen to already have a US passport it would serve as good proof of your status and reduce cause for concern.

Even if you already have a U.S. passport, you may still need your naturalization certificate. Just last week, I helped a friend turn his storage upside down and inside out because he was asked to join a NASA project and they asked for his naturalization number and wouldn't accept his U.S. passport alone.

If you are not pressed for time, it may be easiest to obtain a copy if you file a Freedom Of Information Request on yourself.

Also, I've always had surprisingly good experiences calling the INS help line. Granted, my experiences date years back but my friend just called them last week and had a very helpful agent as well.

Good luck!
posted by rada at 9:42 PM on August 8, 2018 [2 favorites]

« Older Yet another job change question - this one should...   |   Sci fi novel with murderous houses Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.