I am a US Citizen. My 16-year-old son came to the US 2 years ago on a green card. He lives with his mother who has a green card. Is my son a US Citizen?
US Citizenship for a child with a green card – The Requirements
For a permanent resident child to acquire automatic US Citizenship the law requires that:
1. at least one parent must be a US citizen;
2. the child must be under 18 years old; and
3. the child must live in the US in the legal and physical custody of a US Citizen Parent (the child must be still living with a US Citizen Parent).
All three citizenship requirements must be met at the same time. Pursuant to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (effective Feb. 27, 2001) at the moment all these requirements are fulfilled the child is deemed a United States citizen.
Child must live with US Citizen Parent
Your son is not a US citizen at this time because he does not live with you. If you were to have legal custody of your son and can show a court order granting you custody of your son or if you can show factually that you son lives with you, (e.g. your address is contained on his school records, he is claimed as a dependent on your IRS tax returns and receives mail at your home), then all three citizenship requirements would be met and your son is a US citizen. Additionally if his mother becomes a US Citizen before he reaches 18 and he is still living with her, he could acquire automatic US citizenship then.
Get Certificate of Citizenship to prove US Citizenship
If your son acquires automatic US Citizenship you should file an up-to date copy of Form N-600 ( available at www.uscis.gov) and include the application fee and supporting documents to get his Certificate of Citizenship. His certificate of Citizenship will then be used to document his US Citizenship and to apply for a US Passport.
Naturalization Process as a practical alternative
If your son does not qualify for automatic US Citizenship before he turns 18 he will have to satisfy the requirements for United States Citizenship through the Naturalization process using Form N-400 ( also available at www.uscis.gov). The requirements for naturalization are:
- permanent resident in the US for at least 5 years (continuous residence);
- physical presence in the US (he has not been outside the US for more than a specified time);
- good moral character ( he has conducted himself in a legal and acceptable way);
- an understanding of English and US history and Government;
- an understanding of and support for the principles of the US Constitution; and
- residence for a specific amount of time in the state or USCIS district where he will file.
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