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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, which became effective on February 27, 2001, serves to facilitate the acquisition of U.S. citizenship of the foreign-born children of U.S. citizens – both biological and adopted – who did not acquire citizenship at birth. This act amended the provisions of Sections 320 and 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Section 320: Automatic Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship for Children Born Outside of the United States and Residing Permanently in the United States

The child must meet the following requirements:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization;
  • Be under 18 years of age;
  • Live in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
  • Be admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; and

If the child is an orphan, the adoption must be final. If the adoption must be finalized in the United States, citizenship is acquired when the adoption is finalized.

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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. Children who met the requirements of amended Section 320 on that date automatically became American citizens. Children who were 18 years of age or older on that date are not eligible to take advantage of the Child Citizenship Act. They may, however, have acquired U.S. citizenship in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that the Child Citizenship Act superseded. Questions regarding these provisions may be directed to the consular sections of U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

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 only acquire U.S. citizenship when the adoption is full and final in the United States.

How Does a Child Show Lawful Permanent Residence?

A child who has lawful permanent residence (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.

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 does not have to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship in order to be considered a U.S. citizen; however, if you want to obtain such a certificate, you need to submit 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. The form may be obtained by going to www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem and entering N-600 in the search box.

How Does the Child Get a Passport Under the Child Citizenship Act?

You will need the following when the child applies for a passport:

  • 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 required. For an adopted child, it is a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and translation if not in English);
  • The I-551 stamp endorsed in the child's foreign passport showing that the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services admitted the child for lawful permanent residence , or the child's permanent resident card (green card);
  • Proof of identity of the U.S. citizen parent(s)
  • Passport application, passport photographs and fees. Go to Passport Services for forms and full instructions.
Can My Child Get a Birth Certificate (Consular Report of Birth Abroad or CROBA) from the Embassy or Consulate?

No. Only a child who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth can get a birth certificate from an embassy or consulate. A child who acquires U.S. citizenship in accordance with the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 is deemed to be a naturalized U.S. citizen.

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

Another section of the Child Citizenship Act provides that children (biological or adopted) of U.S. citizens who are born and reside abroad, and who do not become U.S. citizens at birth can apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for a Certificate of Citizenship if the following conditions are met.

  • 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, one of the child's U.S. citizen grandparents can meet it.
  • The child is under the age of eighteen;.
  • The child lives abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and has been lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant.
  • If the child is an orphan, the adoption must be finalized.

Children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically. They must apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services for a Certificate of Citizenship by completing form N-600K and remitting the necessary filing fee. The form may be submitted to any field office of the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services and may be obtained by going to www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem 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 only when the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the application for the Certificate of Citizenship.

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