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Child Citizenship Act of 2000 – Sections 320 and 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) is codified at Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) Sections 320 and 322.  INA Section 320 makes it possible for foreign-born children who did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth through a U.S. citizen parent to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon fulfillment of certain conditions while under the age of 18.  INA 322 provides for expedited naturalization of foreign born children who meet certain requirements, also while under the age of 18.  The CCA applies to persons who were/are under the age of 18 on or after the effective date, February 27, 2001. If you are residing overseas and have questions you may visit your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 

INA Section 320: Children Born Outside of the United States and Residing in the United States; Conditions under which Citizenship Automatically Acquired

A child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a citizen of the United States when all of the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  • At least one of the child’s parents is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization;
  • The child is under 18 years of age;
  • The child is residing in or has resided in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.

INA Section 320 applies to a child adopted by a U.S. citizen parent if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under INA Section 101(b)(1); e.g., generally a child adopted while under the age of 16 if the child has been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parent for at least two years; or who is an orphan on whose behalf an immediate relative petition has been filed while under the age of 16. The adoption must be final for the child to acquire U.S citizenship. 

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What Is the Effective Date of the Child Citizenship Act?

The effective date of the Child Citizenship Act is February 27, 2001. Persons under the age of 18 on or after that date who met/meet the requirements of INA Section 320 automatically acquire(d) U.S. citizenship. Persons who were 18 years of age or older as of February 27, 2001 cannot acquire U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act. They may, however, have acquired U.S. citizenship in accordance with the prior versions of INA Sections 320 or 322, or former INA Section 321 

What Happens When the Child Is Adopted in the United States?

A child who enters the United States on an IR4 visa (to be adopted in the United States) will acquire U.S. citizenship when the adoption is full and final in the United States provided all other conditions are met, including that the child is residing in the United States. 

How Does a Child Show Lawful Permanent Residence Status?

A child who has lawful permanent resident (LPR) status will have a permanent resident card (green card). Another way to show LPR status is the I-551 stamp in the child's passport. This stamp shows that the child has entered the United States on an immigrant visa and/or has been admitted as a lawful permanent resident. Admission as a lawful permanent resident alone does not establish that the child is residing or has resided in the United States; that requirement must be established separately. (See below for additional information.)

How to Show That a Child Is Residing or Has Resided in the United States:

Mere entry into the United States or a temporary visit - even if on an immigrant visa - does not meet INA Section 320’s requirement that the child be "residing in the United States." Determining whether a child is residing/has resided in the United States typically rests on an analysis of both the character and the duration of the stay. A parent may be required to provide supporting evidence regarding a child’s stay in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent(s) in support of the child’s passport application.

Must the Child Get a Certificate of Citizenship?

A child who has acquired U.S. citizenship in accordance with Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act need not apply for a Certificate of Citizenship but may do so by submitting a completed N-600 form (Application for Certificate of Citizenship) and the requisite filing fee to any Field Office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS). The form may be obtained by going to the USCIS website and entering N-600 in the search box.

How Does the Child Get a Passport If Acquisition of Citizenship Is under INA Section 320?

All passport applicants must prove both U.S. citizenship and identity to be issued a U.S. passport. For applicants claiming acquisition of U.S. citizenship pursuant to INA Section 320, the following evidence is required:

  • A Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS (This will also suffice to establish U.S. citizenship if acquisition is under INA 322, discussed below.)
  • If the child has not been issued a Certificate of Citizenship by USCIS, the passport application must include the following proof of acquisition of citizenship under the INA Section 320:
  1. Proof of the child's relationship to the U.S. citizen parent. For the biological child of the U.S. citizen this will usually be a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate (and translation if not in English). In circumstances where it is not clear that the birth certificate is adequate proof of a biological relationship between the child and the U.S. citizen parent, other types of evidence, including medical and/or DNA tests, may be requested. For an adopted child, it is a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and translation if not in English);
  2. Proof that the child is residing or has resided in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent(s) pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. The I-551 stamp endorsed in the child's foreign passport or the child's permanent resident or “green” card will establish lawful admission for permanent residence, but not the fact that the child is residing in or has resided in the United States as required by INA 320(a)(3). Separate evidence establishing that the child has resided in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent(s) may be requested;
  3. Proof that the child is or was under the age of 18 when all conditions are met.
  • Passport application, passport photograph and fees. Go to Passport Services for forms and full instructions. 
Can My Child Get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen (CRBA) from the U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

No. Only a child born abroad who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth may be issued a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen. A child who acquires U.S. citizenship at some point after birth in accordance with the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (INA Sections 320 and 322), or otherwise, is not entitled to a document certifying acquisition of U.S. citizenship at birth, such as a CRBA.

INA Section 322: Children Born and Residing Outside of the United States; Conditions for Acquiring Certificate of Citizenship

Another section of the Child Citizenship Act, INA Section 322, provides that a U.S. citizen parent (or, if deceased within five years, a citizen grandparent or legal guardian) may apply for naturalization on behalf of a child born abroad who has not acquired U.S. citizenship automatically under INA Section 320.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will issue a Certificate of Citizenship to the child upon proof that the following conditions have been fulfilled:

  • At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization;
  • The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are after the age of 14. If the child's U.S. citizen parent cannot meet the physical presence requirement, this requirement may be met through proof that the child's U.S. citizen grandparent has been physically present for such time.
  • The child is under the age of eighteen;
  • The child is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission, and is maintaining such lawful status.

INA 322 applies to a child adopted by a U.S. citizen parent if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under INA Section 101(b)(1); e.g., generally a child adopted while under the age of 16 if the child has been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parent for at least two years; or who is an orphan on whose behalf an immediate relative petition has been filed while under the age of 16. U.S. children who acquire citizenship under this new provision must appear before a USCIS officer and take an oath of allegiance, unless the oath is waived because of the age of the child. In the case of a child of a member of the Armed Forces serving overseas, the child need not be in the United States and the oath may be administered abroad. The parents may file the application for a Certificate of Citizenship while abroad using USCIS Form N-600K and remitting the necessary filing fee. The form may be obtained by going to the USCIS website and entering N-600K in the search box. 

Who May File the N-600K Form?

The form may be filed by a U.S. citizen parent. If, however, the U.S. citizen parent has died during the preceding five years, the form may be filed by either a U.S. citizen grandparent or a U.S. citizen legal guardian.

May the N-600K Form be Filed from Overseas?

Yes.

When does the Child Acquire U.S. Citizenship Under Section 322?

The child acquires U.S. citizenship upon issuance of the Certificate of Citizenship.

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