Is My Child Already a US Citizen?

Parents always want the best for the children and U.S. citizenship is one of the most important gift that a parent can give to their child. It opens doors that normally would be closed and offers protection from deportation from the U.S.  But first, let’s define what is a child under the immigration laws.

A child for citizenship purposes is the:

·         Genetic child of a person – a child born in wedlock and this also includes some children that are conceived through artificial reproductive technology even if they do not share the mother’s DNA.

·         Legitimated – this is a biological child that was born out of wedlock but recognized after their birth as the legitimate child of the father.

·         Adopted – children adopted before reaching the age of 16 (some exceptions under 18), in the legal custody for two years of the parent, and can be an adoption in the U.S. or abroad.

You might be wondering about step-children. Step-children are considered children for visa purposes but not for citizenship purposes. This means you can apply for an immigrant visa for your step-child to come live with you in the U.S. but they’ll have to apply for citizenship on their own.

Most children will get U.S. citizenship by being born in the U.S.  so this information only applies to children born outside of the U.S.

Other children will get U.S. citizenship from the moment they are born if the following is true:

·         They have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen when they are born and

·         That U.S. citizen parent meets certain residence and physical presence requirements. These requirements are complicated so we encourage you to speak to a lawyer. Also, it matters if the parents were married or not when the child is born.

Some children will get U.S. citizenship after they are born if the following is true (only applies to children born after 02/27/2001):

·         The child has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization;

·         The child’s U.S. parent meets certain physical presence requirements;

·         The child is under 18;

·         The child is living in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;

·         The child entered the U.S. with permission and remains in legal status.

A final and important point for parents to consider is that you only get one chance to request a Certificate of Citizenship for your child. If you are denied, you cannot reapply. You can only ask USCIS to let you reopen the case if you have new evidence or if you reconsider their decision if were denied improperly. For this reason, do not apply for a Certificate of Citizenship unless you are sure your child fits the above rules.

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