U.S. Citizenship-Children
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Definition


A child born in the United States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), is an American citizen at birth (unless the child is born to a foreign diplomat). The birth certificate is proof of citizenship.

Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. If the parent(s) meets the transmission requirement, a child's birth may be reported to the U.S. Embassy and a U.S. passport and social security number may be obtained for him or her.

It is not possible to report the birth of a child over the age of 18.


Citizenship - Children


Most people become U.S. citizens in one of two ways:

  • By birth, either within the territory of the United States or to U.S. citizen parents, or
  • By Naturalization.

In addition, in 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), which allows any child under the age of 18 who is adopted by a U.S. citizen and immigrates to the United States to acquire immediate citizenship.


Transmission Requirements For U.S. Citizenship


Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. The following is a brief description of the various circumstances under which a child born abroad acquires U.S. citizenship.

Child born in wedlock to two U.S. citizens: A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to U.S. citizenship, provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required.)

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non U.S. citizen parent on or after November 14, 1986: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen parent had, prior to the birth of the child, been physically present in the United States for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother: A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother is entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year at some time prior to the birth of her child. (NOTE: The U.S. citizen mother must have lived continuously for 1 year IN THE UNITED STATES OR ITS OUTLYING POSSESSIONS. Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, may NOT be computed as physical presence in the U.S.).

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen father: A child born outside of the United States to a U.S. Citizen father where there is no marriage to the non-American mother, is entitled to U.S. Citizenship providing the American citizen father had been physically present in the United States for the period of time as specified in previous paragraphs for children born in wedlock to one U.S. Citizen and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, either before or after November 14, 1986; and

  • the alien mother completes an "Affidavit to establish paternity of child" before a consular officer; and
  • the father signs a sworn statement agreeing to provide financial support for the child until s/he reaches the age of 18 years; and
  • the father provides a written statement acknowledging paternity; or
  • the child is legitimated under local law; or
  • paternity is established by a competent court before the child attains the age of 18 years.



Derivative Citizenship


Usually if children are Permanent Residents, they can derive citizenship from their naturalized parents. This is true whether the child is a child by birth or adoption.

In most cases, your child is a citizen if ALL of the following are true:

  • The other parent is also naturalized; OR
  • You are the only surviving parent(if the other parent is dead); OR
  • You have legal custody (if you and the other parent are legally separated or divorced);
  • The child was under 18 when the parent(s) naturalized;
  • The child was not married when the parent(s) naturalized; and
  • The child was a Permanent Resident before his or her 18th birthday.

If you and your child meet all of these requirements, you may obtain a passport for the child as evidence of citizenship.


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