Child Citizenship Act
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows certain foreign-born, biological and adopted children of U.S citizens to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically. These children did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth, but are granted citizenship when they enter the U.S. as lawful permanent residents (LPR's).
Expeditious Naturalization Through a Grandparent
A child under age 18 with a U.S. citizen grandparent who meets certain physical presence requirements may qualify for expeditious naturalization. Although not entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth, the child can become a U.S. citizen by naturalization without first having to take up residence in the U.S. The child must travel to the U.S. to acquire citizenship, and all applications and documentation must be submitted and approved beforehand. The process can take from six months to a year or more. For more information, please see the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship
Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born overseas can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship provided the following requirements are met:
- One parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization;
- The child is under the age of 18;
- The child is residing in the U.S. as a LPR (i.e. has entered the U.S. on an immigrant visa) and is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent; and,
- If the child is adopted, the adoption is final. If the adoption will be finalized in the U.S., the child becomes eligible for citizenship once the adoption process is completed.
Under this law, U.S. citizenship becomes effective on the day the last condition outlined above has been met. U.S. citizenship will not date back to your child's date of birth.
Acquiring Proof of U.S. Citizenship
Although U.S. citizenship is conferred automatically with respect to those who qualify, you may wish to obtain documentary proof of your child's status as a U.S. citizen, thereby making his/her acquisition of U.S. citizenship a matter of record.
One way to do so is to apply for a U.S. passport for your child. After your entry into the U.S. and your child's admission for permanent residence, you may take a completed passport application to any passport agency, clerk of court, or post office that is authorized to accept such applications. As proof that your child has complied with the conditions cited above, it is important to present either your child's LPR card or the passport containing the child's U.S. entry stamp. For further information on the passport application process, please click here.
You can also document your child's citizenship by applying to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for a Certificate of Citizenship. Please note, however, that a Certificate of Citizenship is not a travel document and cannot be used in lieu of a passport for that purpose.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.