New Regulations Will Provide Citizenship for Children Born Abord to U.S. Citizen Parent

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) introduced regulations implementing the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). The CCA became effective on February 27, 2001 and amends the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to provide U.S. citizenship to certain foreign-born children, including adopted children, of U.S. citizens. It is estimated that the CCA will benefit thousands of children in attaining U.S. citizenship.

The process for obtaining citizenship for a foreign born child was unfair, complex, and time-consuming. In an effort to streamline the process and provide for greater flexibility, Congress passed the CCA. Under this law, children – including adopted children – who are less than 18 years of age and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen whether by birth or naturalization may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship. To qualify for automatic citizenship, the child must have been under 18 years of age on February 27, 2001 and have been admitted to the United States as an immigrant. An Affidavit of Support will no longer be required for qualified children.

If the child does not meet all of the above requirements, he or she may nevertheless apply for a certificate of citizenship. Under the CCA, the U.S. citizen parent of a child living abroad must have five years of physical presence in the United States or its outlying possessions with at least two years occurring after age 14, in order to apply for citizenship on behalf of the child. However, if the parent cannot meet this requirement, he or she may rely on the physical presence of his or her citizen parent to apply for citizenship. Unlike the automatic citizenship, the applicant for certificate of citizenship must file the appropriate application with supporting documents with the INS district office.

This law will hopefully reduce processing times, avoid redundancy and allow for reunification of families. Congress, in passing this law, has recognized the importance of keeping parents and children together. United States citizen parents undoubtedly prefer to live and raise their children here in the United States. We urge all our readers to consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney to assist them.