U.S. Citizenship for Children FAQ
A child who is born in the United States, or born abroad to a U.S. citizen(s) who lived in (or came to) the United States for the required period of time prior to the child's birth, is generally considered a U.S. citizen at birth
A child who is:
If you and your child meet all of these requirements, you may obtain a U.S. passport for the child as evidence of citizenship. If the child needs further evidence of citizenship, you may submit an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form N-600) to USCIS to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. (NOTE: A child who meets these requirements before his or her 18th birthday may obtain a passport or Certificate of Citizenship at any time, even after he or she turns 18.)
* NOTE . Children who immigrated under the "IR-3" or "IR-4" categories must have had an immigrant petition filed on their behalf before their 16th birthday; see answers to Question 22. All adoptions for any other type of immigration benefit, including naturalization, must be completed by the child's 16th birthday, with one exception: A child adopted while under the age of 18 years by the same parents who adopted a natural sibling who met the usual requirements.
** NOTE . The "one U.S. citizen parent" rule applies only to children who first fulfilled the requirements for automatic citizenship (other than at birth abroad) on or after February 27, 2001. In order to qualify for automatic citizenship (other than at birth abroad) on or before February 26, 2001, both of the child's parents must have been United States citizens either at birth or through naturalization.both parents if the child had two parents; the surviving parent if a parent had died; the parent with legal custody if the parents were divorced or legally separated; or the mother only, if the child had been born out of wedlock and the child's paternity had not been established by legitimation.
2. If I am a U.S. citizen, but my child does not meet the requirements listed above, can I still apply for citizenship for my child?
A child who is regularly residing in the United States can become a citizen of the United States only by meeting the requirements listed in the answer to Question 25. If a child regularly resides in the United States and is not a lawful permanent resident, he or she cannot acquire citizenship automatically until he or she is granted lawful permanent residence. If a child who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence fails to qualify for citizenship under the provisions of law, he or she may apply for naturalization after reaching 18 years of age by filing Form N-400, provided that he or she has the required 5 years of lawful permanent residence.
U.S. citizens with children by birth or adoption (stepchildren do not qualify) who do not regularly reside in the United States, may apply for citizenship for such a child if all of the following conditions are met:
If the foregoing conditions are met, the citizen parent can apply for citizenship and a Certificate of Citizenship on behalf of the child using an "Application for Citizenship and Issuance of a Certificate under Section 322" (Form N-600K). Both the citizen parent and the child must appear at an interview with a USCIS officer in the United States. The child must meet all of the required conditions at the time he or she takes the Oath.
3. I am a U.S. Citizen, how do I immigrate an adopted or prospective adopted child or help my adopted child become a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident?
There are two different ways to immigrate an adopted child from overseas, or an orphan who is ready to be adopted in the United States, as a legal permanent resident or to become a U.S. citizen.
The first way is through the orphan adoption program. This requires filing an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, and I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
The second way is through immediate relative processing by filing an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
The two methods of adoption are separate and cannot be combined.
To be considered an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet very specific conditions:
You must be a U.S. citizen and, if unmarried, be at least 25 years old prior to filing Form I-600. You may file Form I-600A at age 24. If you are married, you and your spouse must go through the immigration and adoption process together. You must meet the processing requirements, which are designed to protect the orphan. For example, each adult member (18 years of age) of your household will need to be fingerprinted, and USCIS will conduct background and criminal checks on all household members. A "home study" or home visit will also be required by a licensed adoption agency or a home study agency.
USCIS offers the following two options to apply:
Adoptions that are not processed through the orphan program must be completed before the child is 16 years old in order for the child to obtain any benefits as a child under immigration law. If you adopt through the orphan program, the I-600 must be properly filed before the child turns 16 years old.
The only exception to this provision is if the child being adopted is the biological brother or sister of a child that you have already adopted. In this case, the sibling adoption must be completed before that child turns 18 years old.
After the I-600 is approved, USCIS will notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate so they can issue the proper visa for the child to enter the United States. After the I-600 is approved, you can travel overseas and complete the adoption there, or you can bring the orphan to the United States and complete the final adoption here. Regardless of whether or not you complete the adoption overseas, the U.S. Embassy or consulate will issue the child an immigrant visa, and the child will enter the United States as a permanent resident.
If you adopt a child, but did not go through the orphan adoption process, then the child is considered to be your child for immigration purposes when you meet the following requirements:
Once your adopted child qualifies as your child for immigration purposes, you can file an I-130 relative petition. Your adopted child will automatically become a U.S. citizen if the child becomes a permanent resident and the adoption is completed and a Form N-600 is filed before the child reaches 16 years of age. If your adopted child turns 18 years old before he or she becomes a permanent resident, then your child may apply for naturalization using Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, after being a permanent resident for 5 years.
When all of these requirements have been met, you can file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for the child.
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