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The houses of lawyers are roofed with the skins of litigants. ~Welsh Proverb

Before the present naturalization law came into effect on December 24, 1952, persons generally were required to file a declaration of intention to become a citizen of the United States -- which was known as the "first paper" -- and then had to wait for not less than two years before they could take the next step toward becoming a citizen of the United States, that is, before they could file a petition for naturalization. Since 1952 a declaration of intention is no longer required before a person can become a citizen, and an application for naturalization may be filed as soon as the required residence and other qualifications for citizenship have been met.

The law still permits the "Declaration of Intention," to be filed, if one is needed for such reasons as getting certain employment or license of some kind. The only requirements are that the person be at least 18 years old and lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence. The declaration may be filed at any time after admission for permanent residence and in any Service office.

The person is not required to be able to read, write, and speak English or to pass any examination on the history and form of government of the United States, and he or she may sign the declaration in amy language or by mark.

The application is Form N-300, "Application to File Declaration of Intention." This form may be obtained from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or, possibly, from a social service agency in the community. It is filed with the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Form N-300 requires three photographs and payment of a fee as described in the application.


A person whose "Declaration of Intention" or whose certificate of naturalization/citizenship has been lost, mutilated or destroyed, or naturalized person whose name has been changed by a court or by marriage after naturalization, may apply for a new declaration or certificate. The application, Form N-565 "Application for a New Naturalization or Citizenship Document," can be obtained without charge from the nearest office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. It should be filled out, following the instructions and then taken or mailed to that office with the required photographs and fee. No currency should be sent in the mail. That office will then take the action necessary with regard to issuing the new document and will inform the applicant further.
excerpted from Form N-17 (Rev 11/30/92) N
prepared by Dept of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service
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