Acquiring U.S. Citizenship for your Child

Child Citizenship Act

It is important to ensure that your adopted child becomes a U.S. citizen. If you postpone documenting or obtaining your child's citizenship, later he or she may have difficulty getting college scholarships, working legally, voting, and enjoying other rights and privileges. In some cases, the child might even be subject to deportation. Act now to safeguard your child's rights and future.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was designed to make acquisition of U.S. citizenship easier and to eliminate extra steps and costs. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if:

At least one of the child's parents is a U.S. citizen;
The child is under 18;

  • The child lives in the legal and physical custody of the American citizen parent;
  • The child is admitted into the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; and
  • The adoption is final.

Because of the Child Citizenship Act, many parents no longer need to apply separately for a child's naturalization.

If your adoption does not meet these requirements, you must take additional steps to secure your child's U.S. citizenship. Children who enter the United States on IH-4 or IR-4 visas automatically acquire U.S. citizenship (assuming they are under 18) as of the date of their full and final adoption in the United States. To obtain a Certificate of Citizenship once the adoption is finalized, beneficiaries file Form N-600 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Adoptees Not Qualified under the Child Citizenship Act

Children who were 18 or older on February 27, 2001, did NOT acquire U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act. In recent years, many adoptees have found that although they were legally adopted and have been U.S. residents for most of their lives, they do not hold U.S. citizenship. Many discovered this as young adults when applying for jobs, registering to vote, applying for a U.S. passport, or, unfortunately, when getting into trouble with the law and facing deportation to a country they no longer call home. The reasons vary, but the fact remains that many adoptees are considered to be foreign-born, non-citizens and do not even know it.

If you are a foreign-born, non-citizen adoptee who would like to apply for U.S. citizenship, please visit the USCIS web pages on naturalization.