The Limitations of Your U.S. Passport

A U.S. passport is clearly a valuable document that holds significance for many. However, there are some limitations of a U.S. passport for some purposes.

You need a Certificate of Citizenship or Certification of Naturalization when applying for certain benefits such as:

  • Social Security
  • State-issued driver’s licenses or IDs
  • Financial aid for students
  • Employment
  • Passport Renewal

Keeping a certificate of your citizenship status is worthwhile because it never expires and serves as direct proof of citizenship.

Derived Citizenship:

A permanent resident child will become a U.S. citizen automatically when a parent naturalizes. In other words, a child becomes a U.S. citizen when all the following conditions are met and are true:

  1. The child is under 18 years of age
  2. The child is a green card holder
  3. At least one of the parents is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization
  4. The citizen parent is the biological parent of the child or has legally adopted the child
  5. The citizen parent has shared or is the sole legal and physical custody of the child

Occasions When A U.S. Passport May Not Be Sufficient:

  1. Update Citizenship Status with Social Security
    1. Citizenship status may affect employment opportunities. Some types of employment are only available to U.S. citizens.
    2. Citizenship status may affect disability benefits. Some social security disability benefits are only available to U.S. citizens. Therefore, by changing your citizenship status with the SSA, you will ensure you receive all disability, retirement, and Social Security benefits for which you qualify for as a U.S. citizen.
  2. Student Federal Financial Aid
    1. You must be a U.S. citizen to receive federal student aid. Federal student aid includes grants, loans, scholarships, and work-study jobs. These benefits are accessed through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. This FAFSA application asks for proof of your citizenship in order to obtain these benefits.
  3. U.S. Passport Renewal
    1. If your answer is “no” to the following questions, you will likely run into obstacles when renewing your passport.
      • Is your current U.S. passport in your possession?
      • Is the current passport damaged (other than wear or tear)?
      • Was the passport issued to you when you were age 16 or older?
      • Was it issued within the last 15 years?
      • Does your current passport include your current name or a name that you can document?

If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you will need to submit additional documentation to prove your U.S. citizenship status. This is easily accomplished with a Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

How to Apply for a Certificate of Citizenship?: If you have a claim to U.S. citizenship, you may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by using Form N-600, titled “Application for Certificate of Citizenship”. When filing your form, be sure to be equipped with the following documents:

  • Current USCIS filing fee
  • Passport-style photos
  • Birth certificate or other evidence of birth
  • Birth certificate for U.S. citizen parent(s)
  • Evidence of parent’s U.S. citizen and when it was obtained

Sanjay Sabarwal focuses his practice in the areas of Employment Law, Family Law and Personal Injury Law and provides outstanding service and expertise for your legal right to win cases with personalized attention and insightful counsel. Mr. Sabarwal has been the Co-Owner and House Counsel for Ziba Beauty, member of the American Bar Association, Los Angeles Bar Association, South Asian Bar Association and Orange County Bar Association. He also serves on the Advisory Board for Youth Business Alliance, which connects entrepreneurs to speak at underserved schools in Los Angeles County. He is also a board member for the Artesia Chamber of Commerce. Contact Sanjay at or (562) 250-4471.

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