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I used to be a permanent resident, but my green card expired in 2013. I filed form N-400, paid my fee, and was able to get an appointment for biometrics and a USCIS exam within that same year. On the day of my appointment, I was told by the officer that I was already a citizen; deriving US citizenship from my father (a US citizen) in accordance with section 320. I was told that I needed to file an N-600 to get a citizen certificate instead.

However, I never followed up on that. I've been holding off because that application would have cost me another fee. The problem is, now I need to travel to Mexico but I have no proof of my US citizenship. I have my expired permanent resident card and a paper that was given to me on the day of my appointment stating the withdrawal of my application since I was already a US citizen.

My question is: On re-entry to the US (Tijuana -> San Ysidro), would the border patrol people let me back into the US? Are they able to look up that I am a US citizen? I need to travel in the next 3 weeks, so it's kind of an emergency for me.

  • Do you have a passport, or how are you planning to enter Mexico? What are the consequences if you cannot re-enter the U.S.? – jpatokal Apr 24 '15 at 5:21
  • I do not have a passport . – Diana Apr 24 '15 at 5:27
  • well I have family and job here in the U.S I just wouldnt like to be left out there. – Diana Apr 24 '15 at 5:28
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    Mexico is not going to let you in if you don't have a passport or passport card from some country! – jpatokal Apr 24 '15 at 5:30
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    @jpatokal Actually for pedestrians there is no passport control in the Mexico direction- you can walk across with no papers whatsoever! Getting back into the U.S. Is another matter and can take hours- and they frequently lead hapless Mexicans off in shackles. Deeper into Mexico you're supposed to have a visa/tourist card, but i think you can get onto a bus (not a plane) without it. There would be some consequences if caught. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 24 '15 at 11:28
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You don't need to cross any borders from Tijuana to Acapulco, so obviously you can travel without a passport. Assuming that you're already in Mexico (because as jpatokal says, you cannot enter the country without a passport, but if you're already in the country, you're past that), your best bet is going to the nearest American embassy/consulate and clarify your situation. They won't let you cross into the US soil without an official travel document. If it's extremely urgent, call them right away to ask about the fastest way to resolve the situation. I believe they'll provide you with a temporary document to be able to cross the border, then you'll handle the rest (such as applying for a new passport) once you're in the US.

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    sounds logical. Effectively it'd be the same situation as someone who's had their passport lost, stolen, or destroyed and needs help. – jwenting Apr 24 '15 at 8:03
  • How do you get a tourist card from the Mexican authorities without a passport? Not saying this wouldn't work, but I'm not sure what they would accept in terms if I.D. – Spehro Pefhany Apr 24 '15 at 11:31
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It's not mandatory that you file N-600 to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. A U.S. passport is what you need now and is much cheaper and faster to get than a Certificate of Citizenship (N-600 takes several hundred dollars and several months. A passport takes less than a hundred dollars and at most a few weeks; if you need it really quickly, you can apply for it directly at a passport agency.) A U.S. citizen is legally supposed to have a U.S. passport to leave or enter the U.S. anyway. So what you should do is get a U.S. passport before you leave.

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