Citizenship for Children Born Abroad to US Citizens: Registration and Documentation

If you have been living outside of the U.S. and have given birth to a child, you must make sure your child is categorized as a U.S. citizen born abroad. There are a few different paths that allow you to do this so that your child is correctly labeled as a U.S. citizen. In this article, we will be discussing the different steps parents need to take as well as the types of documentation you will need to provide to the USCIS.

Getting U.S. Citizenship For a Child Born Abroad

There are two different ways that a child will automatically become a U.S. citizen at birth and it involves when they are born on U.S. soil as well as when they are born outside of the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent. Acquisition of citizenship applies to a U.S. citizen born abroad who has at least one parent that is a U.S. citizen.

Historically, acquisition of citizenship laws are quite complicated, and this is one of the more complex areas of immigration law. If you are a parent and wish to register as a U.S. citizen born abroad, you must take the necessary steps to get legal assistance. An immigration attorney will be able to help you with this process and ensure you do everything correctly.

Understanding Who Qualifies

When a child is born outside the U.S. to a U.S. citizen, they can usually gain U.S. citizenship based on their parent’s citizenship. However, the parent who is a U.S. citizen must meet specific residence and physical presence requirements for this to happen. The requirements can also change slightly depending on whether the child was born in or out of wedlock.

Child Born in Wedlock

A child born in wedlock would qualify for acquisition of citizenship if both of their parents are U.S. citizens and at least one of them has resided in the U.S. at any time before their birth. If only one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other is a U.S. national citizen, they must have been present in the United States continuously for at least one year before the child’s birth. If one parent is a U.S. citizen and the other is a foreign national citizen, the U.S. citizen has to have been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years, including two years after the age of 14.

Child Born Out of Wedlock

A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is a bit different if the child was born out of wedlock as the U.S. citizen mother has to have been physically present in the U.S. for one year continuously before the child’s birth. This becomes much more complicated if the U.S. citizen is the father, as additional requirements apply:

  • There is clear evidence that the child is the biological offspring of the father.
  • The child’s father was a United States citizen at the time of the birth.
  • The father has provided a written agreement to provide financial support for the child until they are 18 years old.
  • One of these criteria is met before the child’s 18th birthday: they are legitimated under the law of the residence or domicile, the father acknowledges in writing and while under oath the paternity of the child, or the paternity is established by adjudication of a court.

No matter what situation applies to you, it is highly recommended that you take the additional step of hiring an immigration attorney before you begin the process of acquisition of citizenship for your child.

Application For U.S. Citizen Born Abroad

When you register a U.S. citizen born abroad, one step of this process is to fill out form N-600, which is the application for a certificate of citizenship. This must be submitted by the child’s parents if they are under the age of 18. Getting this certificate is very necessary in many situations as it provides proof that the child is a legal U.S. citizen.

The USCIS will usually require applicants to attend an in-person interview as part of the acceptance process, but this isn’t always necessary. If the application is thorough and all of the required documentation is provided, the interview may be waived entirely. You may also be able to get the interview waived if you provide documentation, such as:

  • Certificate of naturalization of the child’s parent or parents.
  • The applicant’s U.S. passport is issued for a five or ten-year period.
  • A consular report of birth abroad of a U.S. citizen.

The best way to ensure this process goes smoothly and quickly is to hire an immigration attorney. An immigration attorney will help you with the application as well as provide documentation so that you do not experience any delays or requests for additional proof. The U.S. Immigration Law Counsel® also provides information and support for parents who are trying to get citizenship for their children who were born abroad and require additional legal assistance.

Application Requirements

The application process can be a common area where parents fail to provide the necessary information, as the requirements can be quite confusing. Extensive documentation is required to completely prove that at least one parent is a U.S. citizen and the child qualifies for acquisition of citizenship. Here are the types of documents you need to provide as proof:

  • Two passport-style photos
  • The child’s birth certificate or birth record
  • Evidence of the parent’s U.S. citizenship
  • The U.S. citizen parents’ birth certificate

Additionally, you may need to provide documentation, such as:

  • Proof of a parent’s U.S. national status
  • The U.S. citizen parents’ marriage certificate
  • Evidence of legal name changes
  • A copy of a permanent resident card
  • Proof of residence or physical presence in the U.S.
  • Biological proof for children born out of wedlock
  • Proof of legal custody

Hire an Immigration Attorney Today

Is your child an American citizen born abroad? If so, you need to take the necessary steps to make sure they are granted U.S. citizenship. Contact us today at U.S. Immigration Law Counsel® by filling out our online form or contacting us directly at 800-666-4996 to speak with one of our attorneys. Our immigration lawyers will deal with the government, so you don’t have to!

Recent News