Summary of Naturalization Record Requirements
I wrote a detailed article on naturalization requirements here. That article turned out to be longer than originally anticipated, as a result, I wanted to write a Cliff notes version of it for those just wanting a summary. To get tips and tricks and additional information, please refer to the original article.
1. Your Italian-born ascendant’s naturalization certificate. If you have the original certified version of your ascendants naturalization certificate and there are no major discrepancies between this and your ascendant’s other records, this may be sufficient to prove naturalization. Make sure to double-check with your consulate to confirm this is sufficient. If you don’t have the original, you can order the certificate from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS does not issue certified copies (unless your relative is still alive and requests a replacement); therefore, you will likely need to get additional certified records (listed below) as proof.
2. Supporting records from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The NARA has records for naturalizations issued by federal courts, such as the U.S. District court, and has a few records for naturalizations issued by county and state courts. The NARA does not have copies of the certificates themselves, but does have supporting records such as the petition for naturalization and the oath. You can request the NARA send you certified copies. If you are able to get certified records from the NARA and there are no major discrepancies between this and your ascendants other records, this and the certificate should be enough proof, otherwise you’ll need to go to the county or state courthouse where the naturalization took place (or where your ancestor lived). Note: a certified copy differs from a regular copy in that all the records are affixed by a red ribbon with a gold seal. When the consulate requests records ‘with the red ribbon’ this is what they are referring to.
3. Supporting records from state or county courts. For naturalizations that were issued by a state or county court, you’ll need to go to the courthouse that issued it to get a certified copy. If your relative did not naturalize, you may need to get a statement of no record from the county courts where your relative lived. If you are able to get a certified copy from a courthouse, this, along with the certificate, should be sufficient.
4. Supporting records from state or county historical societies or archive offices. Some counties and states have released all of their naturalization records to local historical societies or archives offices. If this happened to your relatives records, in most cases, you should be able to get certified copies. Also request they send you a certified custodial agreement/letter (signed by a registrar of records, with appropriate letter head and notarization) stating that the county or state released the naturalization documents to them.
5. Certified census and other records. If there are discrepancies you are concerned about or you are unable to track down records from the above organizations, you’ll likely need to get a certified copy of the census record issued immediately after your first U.S. born ascendant was born from the NARA. For example, if you are requesting citizenship through your great grandfather->grandfather where your great grandfather was born in Italy and your grandfather was born in the U.S. in, say 1915, you’ll want to get a copy of the 1920 census which lists both of them. There may be other records you can provide as additional proof, such as World War I and World War II registration records, ship passenger lists, etc. Basically, any record that still shows your Italian born ascendant as an Italian citizen after your U.S. born ascendant was born will help in this situation.
6. Statement of ‘No Record’ from the above organizations. If the above organizations cannot find the naturalization record for your ascendant, request they send you a statement of no record that lists the search criteria they used. The statement of no record should be certified, with the appropriate letter head, signed by a custodian of records (ask them to include their title) and notarized. If there are are possible spelling variations for your relative’s name, be sure to let the organization know for their search.
Note: You do not need an apostille or translations done on any naturalization paperwork including ‘record not found’ letters.