Identification Catch-22
May 24, 2006 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Let's say you emigrated to the USA from Italy with your family when you were just a child and you're now in your 20's. You find yourself in a situation where, for one reason or another, you've lost your birth certificate, your citizenship papers and your passport and you want to set about obtaining them again. How would you go about doing it? Where would you even start? Could you come up with a detailed step-by-step plan? It would seem to be a Catch-22. Can you get one document without having the other.
posted by TheManticore to Law & Government (20 answers total)
 
Write to the place where you were born - the Italian Department of Birth Certificate Getting. Get a copy of your birth certificate. Proceed from there.
posted by jellicle at 7:07 AM on May 24, 2006


This situation is similar to my mother's, a Dane who never became an American citizen despite living in the U.S. for several years. Having slipped between the cracks of both countries (I suggested she become an international super spy at that point), she went to the Danish consulate and they did all the legwork to dig up documentation necessary to issue her a new passport. I would go to the Italian nearest embassy/consulate.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:09 AM on May 24, 2006


It should be added that you are now an American citizen and so the citizenship papers and passport you've lost had been issued by the United States
posted by TheManticore at 7:26 AM on May 24, 2006


Do I still have my driver's license? How about my Social Security card? If so, I'm not concerned. A quick visit to the nearest Department of Vital Records office ought to get things sorted out.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:39 AM on May 24, 2006


You don't have your driver's license either but you do have your social security number.
posted by TheManticore at 7:53 AM on May 24, 2006


I believe your only real option here is to contact US Citizenship and Immigration Services about a replacement certificate. I found this unfortunate quote about that process:

"If you lose your Certificate of Naturalization, you are going to have to deal with the CIS all over again. They will have to find your naturalization records and issue you another Certificate of Naturalization. This can take more than a year. If they accidentally damage, lose, or misplace your naturalization records—guess what?—you may lose your right to continue to live and work here."

After (if) you get a new certificate, you can then get a replacement passport. Good luck, hypothetically, to whoever this situation applies to.
posted by empyrean at 7:55 AM on May 24, 2006


As long as you know where you were born in Italy, you shouldn't have trouble getting your birth certificate from the local 'comune' vital records office. The rest should follow easily enough. Oh, and you might consider getting an Italian (i.e. EU) passport while you're at it.
posted by holgate at 7:56 AM on May 24, 2006


Oh, yes: easily enough, apart from the CIS being the most wretched branch of US governmental bureaucracy, thanks to its being invisible to natural-born citizens.
posted by holgate at 7:58 AM on May 24, 2006


It should be added that you are now an American citizen

This assumption doesn't seem valid to me, given the information provided in the question -- TheManticore says he wasn't born in the US. From which country are these missing citizenship papers?
posted by Rash at 8:04 AM on May 24, 2006


Rash, the birth certificate was issued in Italy but the citizenship papers and passport were US issued.
posted by TheManticore at 8:12 AM on May 24, 2006


Get your birth cert from the Italian government. You should have it anyway.

Call the USCIS 1-800 number to find out what to do about the rest of it. Call them at least three times to make sure you get the same answer each time (my experience suggests they don't always clue their phone operators in when rules change).

The USCIS is not the most straight-forward organization to dealwith. You may have to re-apply for citizenship. If that's the case, I recommend hiring an immigration attorney.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:37 AM on May 24, 2006


What joannemerriam said. A good immigration attorney can help you avoid critical missteps.
posted by Opposite George at 8:46 AM on May 24, 2006


You may have to re-apply for citizenship.

Where on earth did you get that idea?
posted by jaysus chris at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2006


Oh, and you might consider getting an Italian (i.e. EU) passport while you're at it.

That may not be easy. If the subject became a naturalized American before 1992, the Italian citizenship is lost. It can be regained only by establishing residence in Italy for one year.
posted by Neiltupper at 8:55 AM on May 24, 2006


What year did this person acquire a US passport or become a citizen?
posted by JJ86 at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2006


You may have to re-apply for citizenship.

Where on earth did you get that idea?


jaysus chris, I have no idea what the OP's situation is. In some countries when you acquire naturalization through your parents as a minor and don't renew/confirm it as an adult, you lose it. Plus the USCIS has a lot of weird ways in which you can lose your status. If the OP can't prove he ever had citizenship, he may have to reapply. It doesn't seem like such a stretch to me.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:52 AM on May 24, 2006


You may have to re-apply for citizenship.
I hope you know what you're talking about. I'm not qualified to challenge that comment, but I can definitely see USCIS getting upset if they accidentally issued two citizenships to one person (voter fraud? identity theft?).
posted by Count Ziggurat at 1:51 PM on May 24, 2006


I am qualified to suggest you see an immigration lawyer. You need to tread carefully with USCIS.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 1:53 PM on May 24, 2006


Me: You may have to re-apply for citizenship.
Count Ziggurat: I hope you know what you're talking about.


To clarify: I am not saying the OP is no longer a citizen. I am not recommending the OP re-apply for citizenship. I am saying that the USCIS has labyrinthine, anti-intuitive and seemingly contradictory rules, and the OP may run afoul of them.

That's why I told the OP to hire an immigration lawyer if the USCIS tells him his citizenship is no longer valid or can't be confirmed.

I apologize that my intent was apparently unclear in my original post.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2006


You're only going to lose your citizenship if you get elected prime minister or undertake one of these activities (losing your paperwork is not one of them).

Looks like this is the form you will need to get another copy of your citizenship papers. $220 application fee and about a year waiting...
posted by jaysus chris at 2:41 PM on May 24, 2006


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