What is The Child Citizenship Act of 2000?
On October 30, 2000 the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) was signed into law and became effective on February 27, 2001. This new law amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to allow certain foreign-born, biological, and adopted children of American citizens the opportunity to automatically acquire American citizenship when they enter the United States as lawful permanent residents (LPR).
To be eligible, a child must meet the legal definition of a child (link to “What is the Definition of a Child according to U.S. Immigration Law” article) for naturalization purposes. They must also meet the following requirements:
The child has at least one United States citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);
The child is under 18 years of age;
Live in the legal and physical custody of the American citizen parent;
Be admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent resident; and,
In addition, if the child is adopted then the adoption must be full and final.
If the child meets the CCA requirements, he or she will automatically acquire American citizenship on the day of their admission into the United States as a legal permanent resident. Additionally, if the child is a legal permanent resident in the United States and their U.S. citizen parent(s) become naturalized U.S. citizens, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. The parents do no need to file an application with the USCIS to establish their child’s citizenship. They do not have to apply for a certificate of citizenship, but they may file an application for one (Form N-643K (link to PDF Form N-643K)) if they wish.
Adopted Children and the CCA
Children who have been adopted by at least one U.S. citizen parent may also take advantage of the CCA. Please keep the following regulations regarding adopted children in mind:
- If a full and final adoption is completed abroad and the child meets the requirements applicable under the immigration law, the child will automatically become a citizen on the day he or she is admitted to the United States as an LPR;
- If the child was adopted abroad, but at least one parent did not see the child before or during the foreign adoption proceeding, the child will become a citizen on the day the citizen parent(s) completes any procedure their state of residence may require to obtain recognition of the foreign adoption.
- If the child’s adoption is completed in the U.S., the child becomes a citizen when the citizen parent(s) obtain(s) a final adoption decree from the proper court.
Children Born and Residing Outside the United States
Children who have at least one U.S. citizen parent but are residing outside of the United States, according to the CCA, may not automatically acquire citizenship but instead, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for naturalization on their behalf. The child will have to travel to the United States temporarily to complete the naturalization process and to take the Oath of Allegiance. Furthermore, the child does not have to be admitted as a permanent resident. They may enter as a lawful nonimmigrant.
In order to be eligible to claim citizenship, children residing outside of the United States must meet the following requirements:
- The child has at least one United States citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);
- The United States citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for at least five years, at least two of which were after the age of 14. If the child’s American citizen parent cannot meet this physical presence requirement, it is enough if the child has an American citizen grandparent who can meet it;
- The child is under 18 years of age;
- The child is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the United States citizen parent;
- The child is temporarily present in the United States, having entered the United States lawfully and maintaining lawful status in the United States; and,
- An adopted child must also meet the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration law.
For more information on the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, please see the following links:
Additional Ways Children of U.S. Citizen Parents May Gain Citizenship
In addition to the paths to citizenship that became available following the CCA’s enactment, children of one or two U.S. citizen parents who were born outside of the U.S. have gained citizenship at birth in the following ways:
- If one parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and the birthdate of the child is on or after November 14, 1986, then the child may gain citizenship at birth even if he or she was born outside of the United States. The parents must have been married at the time of birth and the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the U.S. for a period of at least 5 years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, of which at least two years were after his or her 14th birthday.
- If one parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and the birthdate of the child is prior to November 14, 1986 but after October 10, 1952 then the child may gain citizenship automatically at birth. The parents must have been married at the time of birth and the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the U.S. for a period of at least 10 years at some time in his or her life prior to the birth, at least five of which were after his or her 14th birthday.
Although it is not required to obtain a certificate of citizenship, in order to apply for things such as a U.S. passport, any naturalized citizen will need proof of their U.S. citizenship. As such, it is recommended that newly naturalized citizens obtain one by filing Form N-643K.