Under present law a child born abroad to only one parent who is U.S. citizen parent, and the other parent a foreign national, does not get U.S. citizenship at birth (by filing Form DS-2029) unless the citizen parent meet a specific U.S. physical presence requirement. Before the child was born, the citizen parent must have lived in the United States for a total period of at least five years with two of those years being after the citizen parent was 14 years old.
For a citizen parent that does not meet this physical presence requirement there is an alternative of expedited naturalization.
Who is eligible for citizenship?
A child born and living permanently abroad may get a certificate of citizenship when all the following five (5) requirements exist
- At least one parent is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization. If the U.S. parent is dead, the applicant must show that at least one parent was a U.S. citizen.
- The U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the United States for at least 5 years, at least two of which were after the age of 14 or the U.S. citizen grandparent was physically present in the United States for at least 5 years, at least two of which were after the age of 14.
- The child must be less than 18 years and unmarried.
- The child is residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the applicant, and
- The child is temporarily present in the United States by a lawful admission, and is maintaining lawful status.
Citizenship for an adopted child
A U.S. citizen parent may also apply for a certificate of citizenship for an adopted child. In addition to the above requirements, the applicant must show that the adoption was final before the child’s sixteenth (16th) birthday, the U.S. citizen parent had legal custody and the child has lived with the parent for at least two (2) years.
The application for a certificate of citizenship
- An application for a certificate of citizenship by the parent, grandparent or legal guardian on behalf of the child must be filed on Form N-600K with the correct fee and supporting documents while the child is living at a foreign address. The application may be filed with any USCIS district office in the United States. The citizen parent may indicate any preferred interview dates.
- The citizen parent should allow at least ninety days to enable USCIS to make a preliminary decision and schedule an interview. The parent will recieve a Form G-56 General Call in Letter, from the Deaprtment of Homeland Security (DHS) at the foreign address signifying that the child has a naturalization interview to attend in the United States.
- The citizen parent will use the appointment notice to get a b2 visitors visa for the child (if not from a Visa Waiver Program country) from the U.S. consulate abroad. The b2 visitor visa is for the explicit purpose of attending the USCIS interview. The child must intend to return abroad as condition for obtaining the b2 non immigrant visa. Proof that his parents live abroad is usually enough to prove non-immigrant intent.
- The U.S. citizen parent, grandparent or legal guardian should go with the child to United States to the USCIS interview and carry supporting documents.
- After approval at the scheduled interview and after taking and subscribing to the oath of allegiance inside the United States before an officer of USCIS the child becomes a United States citizen and gets a certificate of citizenship.
- The child is free to stay in the United States.
It is important to remember that USCIS must approve the application for quick naturalization before the child’s eighteenth (18th) birthday. Therefore the N-600K filing should be done in a timely manner.