You’ve attended your oath ceremony and officially become a United States citizen. Congratulations! You might wonder, “what should I do next?” Well, once you become a U.S. citizen, there are 3 important things that you should do:
- Apply for a U.S. passport;
- Register to vote; and
- Update your Social Security record
We’ll go over each of these tasks in this blog post.
Applying for a U.S. passport after naturalization
Even if you do not plan to travel outside of the United States, you should consider getting a U.S. passport after naturalization. Your Certificate of Naturalization is your original proof of citizenship. However, a passport is an additional proof of citizenship that is more widely recognized than a Certificate of Naturalization. As a result, a passport is often easier and more convenient to use as proof of citizenship.
Also, it is a good idea to have your passport in case you ever need to leave the United States on short notice. Having a passport ahead of time helps you avoid extra fees or needing to wait before you travel.
At your naturalization ceremony, you will receive a U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet, which contains an application for a U.S. passport. Passport application forms are also available at most U.S. post offices or online at travel.state.gov.
Steps to apply for a U.S. passport
You need to submit your passport application form in person for your first U.S. passport. Visit travel.state.gov to find a passport acceptance facility near you, and then follow these easy steps:
- Fill out a passport application. Form DS-11 is for first-time passport applicants.
- Provide evidence of U.S. citizenship
You need to bring the original Certificate of Citizenship as proof of citizenship for a passport. Bring the original and a copy to file with your application. You do not need to submit your original naturalization certificate. You only need to show it at the acceptance facility. A copy of your Certificate of Citizenship also fulfills the ID and ID photocopy requirement.
- Provide a Passport Style Photo
You can get your photo taken at Walgreens or CVS and they will know the requirements for a passport photo. The requirements for a passport photo are:
- Color photo;
- Taken in last 6 months;
- Must be a clear image of your face;
- May not wear eye glasses;
- Must have a plain white or off-white background;
- 2 x 2 inches;
- Head must be between 1-1 ⅜ inches from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head;
- Printed on photo quality paper;
- May not digitally change the photo; and
- Photo may not be damaged (no holes, creases, or smudges).
Registering to vote after naturalization
Voting is both a right and a responsibility that comes with U.S. citizenship. After you take the Oath of Allegiance, you will have the opportunity to register to vote. At oath ceremonies, forms may be distributed by a state or local government election office, a non-governmental organization, or a USCIS official.
Register to vote in Wisconsin
If you did not register to vote at your oath ceremony, you still can. In Wisconsin, you can start the registration process online at myvote.wi.gov. You can also register in-person at your local municipal clerk’s office, with a special registration deputy, or at the polling place on Election Day.
The Voter Registration Guide from elections.wi.gov contains more detailed information about registration. Note that all voters must submit proof of residence with their voter registration. You also need to show proof of identification. You can use a current and valid Wisconsin driver’s license or ID card.
Update your Social Security record
After your naturalization ceremony, you should update your Social Security record at a local Social Security Administration (SSA) office. In some states, certain benefits are only available to U.S. citizens. Updating your information as a naturalized citizen with the SSA ensures that you have access to all of the benefits to which you are entitled.
Please wait at least ten days after your ceremony before going to the SSA to ensure that data reflecting your naturalization has been updated.
You will need your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport when you visit the SSA to update your Social Security record. To find your local Social Security office, call 1-800-772-1213 or visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
Frequently Asked Questions
A passport for an adult (anyone 16 years or older) will cost $110 for the application, paid to the Department of State. A separate acceptance fee of $35 must be paid to the acceptance facility.
For a child (anyone under 16 years old) the application fee is only $80. However, you will still have to pay the $35 fee to the acceptance facility.
Passports are typically processed within 6-8 weeks. If you are planning on traveling outside of the United States and need a passport quicker, you can pay an extra $60 to have the application expedited.
You can apply for a U.S. passport immediately after your naturalization oath ceremony. However, if you decided to change your name as a part of your naturalization process, you will need to update other documentation, such as your social security card and driver’s license before you can apply for a U.S. passport.
The United States will not require you to surrender your passport from your native country when you naturalize. However, some countries will not allow you to keep your passport when you apply to become a U.S. citizen.
You only need to update your driver’s license after naturalization if you changed your name as a part of your naturalization process.