Q. I filed a Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, for my son, along with a fee waiver request in New York City in March 2011. I have not received any receipt or confirmation from USCIS. How long does an N-600 take to be processed when it is submitted with a fee waiver application? My son is 15 years old. He became a U.S. citizen automatically when I naturalized. He received an American passport, but we need a Certificate of Citizenship to prove that he is a U.S. citizen.

May 18, 2012 | Naturalization

A. A U.S. passport is evidence of U.S. citizenship and, legally, its weight is equal to that of a Certificate of Citizenship.

There are some limited circumstances where it would be beneficial to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. For instance, if your son ever loses his U.S. passport, he will need to provide evidence of U.S. citizenship to get a new one. A Certificate of Citizenship is primary evidence of U.S. Citizenship, that is, it alone would be sufficient to prove that your son is eligible to receive a new passport. If your son does not have a Certificate of Citizenship, he may need to provide the passport office with his foreign birth certificate, his green card, and your naturalization certificate, to prove – again – that he is a U.S. citizen. Gathering this documentation may be challenging.

The delay in processing your son’s N-600 application is not unusual. The New York District Office is currently adjudicating N-600 applications that were received on July 29, 2011. But N-600 applications filed with fee waiver requests have longer processing times, unfortunately.

Because you filed an N-600 application with a fee waiver request to the New York District Office (before the Phoenix Lockbox became the centralized filing location for these applications on October 30, 2011), no receipt notice was issued to you, and thus it is harder to get a case status update from USCIS on your case.

To check on the status of your N-600 application that you filed with a fee waiver in New York City, you need to contact the New York District Office directly. You can schedule an InfoPass appointment online at http://infopass.uscis.gov to speak with an officer about your pending case. If possible, bring with you a copy of the N-600 application and proof of your having mailed it. There is a chance that the officer you see that day will not be able to provide with you with case information because these cases are not tracked by USCIS, and a supervisor or section chief may need to look into the matter. This may not happen that same day, however.

If the District Office is not helpful at your Infopass appointment, you can contact your local congressional representative for assistance and ask their staff to initiate a case inquiry on your behalf. Call 311 or go to www.congress.org to locate your representative.

Please note that if the N-600 applicant is at risk of losing benefits, such as SSI, due to the unexpectedly long processing time, you should bring proof of this to the District Office or the congressional representative’s office. USCIS will often agree to expedite the processing in such cases.