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Fact Sheet - Child Citizenship Act Of 2000

Purpose

On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective. The aim of this law is to facilitate the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for both biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad and who do not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. Under this law, U.S. citizenship will be conferred automatically upon thousands of children currently in the United States.

Requirements

The following are the Act's requirements:

  1. At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization;
  2. The child is under the age of 18;
  3. The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent after having been lawfully admitted into this country as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; AND
  4. If the child has been adopted, the adoption must be final.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the Act apply to foreign-born children who have immigrated to the United States in order to be adopted as well as to those who have been adopted abroad?

A: Yes. Children who have immigrated to the United States in order to be adopted become citizens as soon as the adoption decree is final.

Q: Does it matter in which order the requirements are met?

A: No. The order does not matter. Citizenship is acquired automatically as soon as all of the requirements have been met.

Q: Will a child who has met the requirements of this new law need to apply for a passport from the State Department or a Certificate of Citizenship from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to become a citizen?

A: No. As soon as the law's requirements have been met, the child acquires U.S. citizenship automatically without the need to apply for either a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship.

Q: What documents are required to obtain a passport for a child who became a U.S. citizen under the Act?

A: (1) Evidence of the child's relationship to a U.S. citizen parent (a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate for children born to an American or, if adopted, a certified copy of the final adoption decree); (2) the child's foreign passport with USCIS's I-551 stamp or the child's resident alien card; and (3) the parent's valid identification.

Q: How does someone prove admission into the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence?

A: Either the child's permanent resident alien card, commonly known as a "green card," or an I-551 stamp placed in the child's passport by USCIS.

Q: How does a child demonstrate adoption in order to obtain a passport and/or Certificate of Citizenship?

A: By presenting a certified copy of a final adoption decree.

Q: Are the Act's provisions retroactive in applicability?

A: No. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001, will not be able to take advantage of the Act.

Q: What is the effective date of U.S. citizenship for children who met all the requirements of the new law prior to February 27, 2001?

A: February 27, 2001. Even though the requirements were met before the Act's effective date, citizenship is only acquired on that date.

Q: Will U.S. Embassies and Consulates issue reports of birth to children acquiring citizenship pursuant to this Act?

A: No. Reports of birth are issued only to children who acquire citizenship at birth.

The Act's Other Provisions

Another section of this new law provides that children (biological and adopted) of U.S. citizens who are born and reside abroad (that is, they do not enter the U.S. as permanent residents) and who don’t become U.S. citizens at birth can apply to USCIS for a certificate of citizenship if ALL of the following conditions are met:

  1. At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization;
  2. The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are were after the age of 14. If the child's U.S. citizen parent cannot meet this requirement, it is enough if one of the child's U.S. citizen grandparents can meet it;
  3. The child is under the age of eighteen; AND
  4. The child resides 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.

NOTE that children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically; rather, they must/must apply to USCIS for a certificate of citizenship and go through the naturalization process.