New Naturalization Certificates to be More Secure

In the years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, government agencies have worked to make it harder for terrorists and other criminals to enter the United States. Airport security has been beefed up, and states have tightened their procedures for issuing drivers’ licenses and other state ID cards. U.S. immigration authorities have likewise sought to protect the integrity of the documents they issue, introducing newer, more secure versions of key immigration documents, including a redesigned green card and employment authorization document (EAD), both rolled out earlier this year.

At a ceremony in Baltimore on October 25th, USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced the launch of a new version of the Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550). The new certificates feature a digitized photo of the naturalization candidate, with his or her signature embedded in the document. (See USCIS Redesigns Naturalization Certificate to Enhance Security, USCIS Press Release, 25.Oct.2010.)

According to the USCIS, the enhanced forms use a new printing process that makes them more tamper-proof, and “features a color-shifting ink pattern that is difficult to reproduce.” In addition, the USCIS will transition to an automated process for producing the finished certificates, which they say will be both faster and more secure. According to USA Today, the old certificates “were filled in manually and the person’s photograph was just attached to it,” while the new version will have “a personalized holographic image, a laser-engraved fingerprint of the person and improved identification technology.” (See Naturalization Docs Add Security Features, by Alan Gomez, USA Today, 25.Oct.2010.)

About 600,000 of the new certificates are expected to be issued in the coming year, and USCIS notes that N-550s issued prior to the change will still be valid.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.