FAQ: Child Citizenship Act of 2000

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 contains two provisions that allow foreign-born, biological, and adopted children of U.S. citizens to acquire U.S. citizenship if they satisfy certain requirements before age 18. The Act applies to children who did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. 

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What Are the Requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000?

Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 320) provides that children acquire U.S. citizenship if they satisfy certain requirements before age 18 which include:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization
  • Be admitted to the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence
  • After admission to the United States, reside in the country in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent
  • If the child is adopted, his or her adoption must be full and final so that the adoption process is legally complete and fully recognized by the U.S. state where the child is residing.

If you and your child reside outside the United States, your child may apply for a certificate of citizenship through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under Section 322 of INA 322 and take an oath of naturalization to complete the child's citizenship acquisition. This includes children of U.S. government employees and members of the armed forces who live abroad with parents stationed outside of the United States. To acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 322, you must demonstrate to USCIS your child meets certain requirements before age 18 which include:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization
  • Have a U.S. citizen parent who has been physically present in the United States for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are after age 14. If the child's U.S. citizen parent cannot meet the physical presence requirement, one of the child's U.S. citizen grandparents must meet it.
  • The child lives abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and is temporarily present in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission and is maintaining that lawful status.
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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 were under the age of 18 on February 27, 2001 (i.e. born on or after February 28, 1983) may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship from their U.S. citizen parent(s) if they satisfied the statute's requirement before their 18th birthday. 

Children who were age 18 or older on February 27, 2001 (i.e. children born on or before February 27, 1983) are not eligible to acquire U.S. citizenship from their parents pursuant to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. A child may be eligible to automatically derive U.S. citizenship on another basis. You may also wish to contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to apply for the child's naturalization.

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What Adoption Evidence is Required if the Child Enters the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 Visa?

A child who enters the United States on an IR-4 or IH-4 visa (to be adopted in the United States) will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship when the adoption occurs in the United States. The adoption must happen before the child’s 18th birthday and the child must meet the other requirements of Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Applicants may submit one of the following documents as evidence the adoption was finalized in the United States:

  • a certified copy of a full and final adoption decree issued in the United States;
  • a court order issued in the child’s state of residence recognizing the foreign adoption;
  • or a statement from a competent authority (such as a court or state agency that oversees international adoptions) that the child’s state of residence in the United States does not allow re-adoption (following an adoption performed abroad).
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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 the child has entered the United States on an immigrant visa and/or has been admitted as a lawful permanent resident.

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Must the Child Get a Certificate of Citizenship Before Applying for a U.S. Passport?

If your child acquired citizenship pursuant to Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you do not have to apply for a certificate of citizenship for your child before applying for your child’s U.S. passport.

If you and your child reside abroad, you will need to contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to apply for a certificate of citizenship under Section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The child may apply for a U.S. passport once he or she receives a certificate of citizenship from USCIS.

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How Does the Child Get a Passport Under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act?

Only children residing in the United States are eligible to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If your child automatically acquired U.S. citizenship pursuant to this Section, he or she may obtain a certificate of citizenship from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or apply for a U.S. passport from the U.S. Department of State. If your child has not obtained a certificate of citizenship, you will need to present the following when applying for your child's U.S. passport:

  • Proof of the child’s relationship to the U.S. citizen parent. For the biological child of a U.S. citizen, this generally will be a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate (and a translation if the birth certificate is not in English). For an adopted child, you must submit a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and a translation if the decree is not in English);
  • Proof the child is admitted as a lawful permanent resident, such as the child’s foreign passport with a I-551 stamp, or the child's permanent resident card (green card);
  • Proof of identity and citizenship of the U.S. citizen parent(s);
  • Evidence the child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
  • Completed Form DS-11 and supporting documents. 

If your child obtained a certificate of citizenship from USCIS, you must submit it with your child’s passport application as proof of citizenship.

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Can My Child Get a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) from the Embassy or Consulate?

No. Children who acquired citizenship pursuant to either INA 320 or 322 are not eligible to receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). Only a child who acquired U.S. citizenship at birth may obtain a CRBA from a U.S. embassy or consulate.