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What to Do If You Cannot Get a Birth Certificate


Review  the State Department’s website for  more information about acceptable birth certificates from your country of birth: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/fees/reciprocity-by-country.html .  A birth certificate must show the following information:

  • full name
  • date of Birth
  • both parents’ names
  • the birth certificate must be the long-form, issued by the appropriate government agency, not by a consulate or embassy.

If birth was not registered with the appropriate government agency: submit “secondary evidence” and a Certificate of Non-Availability.  Certificates of Non-availability are issued by government agencies and state that no birth information is on file for the person.  Examples of secondary evidence include but are not limited to:

  • old family registers,
  • early school records,
  • early medical records,
  • early religious records, and/or
  • sworn affidavits.  Affidavits may be submitted with a Certificate of Non-Availability. An affidavit should be executed before an official authorized to take oaths (i.e. a magistrate, commissioner of oaths, justice of the peace or the like) by the mother, father, and any relative who is old enough and of such relationship to have personal knowledge of the birth facts.  An affidavit should indicate:
    • that the applicant’s birth was not registered;
    • the full maiden name of the mother of the applicant;
    • the full name of the father of the applicant;
    • the date of the applicant’s birth;
    • the place of the applicant’s birth.
    • If neither parent is alive, the next closest relative, who was old enough and of such relationship as to have personal knowledge of the birth at the time and place it occurred, may execute the affidavit.

If the birth was registered late, i.e., 1 year or more after date of birth, “secondary evidence” is also required.

Documents USCIS generally does not accept as proof of parentage: “short form” birth certificates; secondary evidence unless submitted with Certificate of Non-availability.

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