Q: I am applying for legal permanent residence in the US. Do I have to submit a birth certificate with my application? I lost my copy, so I would have to get another one from the town where I was born in my home country.

A: Yes, you definitely need to submit a copy of your certified birth record (assuming such a record exists) as part of the application package for legal permanent residence. It is certain that US Citizenship and Immigration Services will not process your application without this document. (Birth records are required for a number of other types of immigration applications as well. This information applies also to those applications.)

Information regarding the specific procedures for obtaining birth certificates is usually available from the embassy or consulate of the country concerned. The record must contain the following information:
-Person’s name;
-Person’s date of birth;
-Person’s place of birth;
-Names of both parents (if known);
-An annotation (stamp, seal, signature, etc.) by the appropriate authority indicating that the document is the official record or an extract from the official records.

Unobtainable birth certificates
-Your birth record may be unobtainable for a number of reasons, such as:
-Your birth was never officially recorded.
-Your birth records have been destroyed.
-The appropriate government authority will not issue the document.
In such cases, you should try to obtain a certified statement from the appropriate government authority in your home country stating the reason why your birth record is not available. With the certified statement you must submit what the US immigration authorities call “secondary evidence.”

For example:
-A baptismal certificate that contains the date and place of birth and parents’ names (providing the baptism took place within two months after birth);
-An adoption decree for an adopted child;
-A sworn affidavit from at least two persons, preferably including the applicant’s mother, stating that they have personal knowledge of the date and place of birth, parents’ names, and the mother’s maiden name.
An affidavit must be signed in the presence of an official authorized to administer oaths or affirmations in the relevant country.

Note for Irish citizens: For Irish birth certificates, the “long form” version should be submitted. If you have any difficulty obtaining the proper evidence regarding your birth records, or if you have any other questions concerning immigration law, visit one of our weekly clinics advertised in the Emigrant for a free, confidential consultation.

Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. Immigration law is always subject to change. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Department of State frequently amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of IIIC legal services staff. The IIIC is an organization accredited by the US Department of Justice.