The most common way a person obtains U.S. citizenship is simply by being born in the United States. However, some people may also obtain U.S. citizenship at birth even if they are born outside of the U.S. It is often difficult to determine whether a person is considered a U.S. citizen at birth because the analysis may include the citizenship of the child’s parents, the parent’s marital status at the time of the child’s birth, the parents’ prior residence in the U.S., etc.
As you can see, determining whether a child acquires U.S. citizenship at birth is a complex process. But it is worth the effort because of the immense value of U.S. citizenship. If the child is indeed considered a U.S. citizen, it is important to apply for a ‘Consular Report of Birth Abroad.’ Here are important facts to know if you have a baby overseas.
What is a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
It might sound complicated, but the Consular Report of Birth Abroad is simple to understand – it is a report to the U.S. government that an American citizen had a child while living or traveling abroad. This happens more than you might think. Expatriates, employees of the American government, and a number of travelers can oftentimes give birth abroad, which makes it necessary to report such a birth back to the U.S. government so the child’s U.S. citizenship will be recognized.
This occurs through a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. This report to the Department of State is also known as Form FS-240. It includes some of the following features, requirements, and restrictions:
• The person born abroad who is claiming U.S. citizenship should be under the age of 18 at the time of application.
• The U.S. Embassy or consulate local to the birth will issue an “original copy” of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
• Acquiring U.S. citizenship or nationality in Puerto Rico, Guam, and other U.S. territories is not included, as these territories are considered part of the United States and the individual in question, then, is not considered to have been born “abroad.”
• The Consular Report of Birth Abroad is given to those children who acquire citizenship at birth – which is to say they are the offspring of at least one U.S. citizen parents who meets certain requirements.
Keep the above facts in mind as you consider requesting a Consular Report of a Birth Abroad.
Why Do You Need a Consular Report of Birth Abroad?
Proof of U.S. citizenship is vital for maintaining a number of legal documents, especially a U.S. passport. Other examples where proof of U.S. citizenship may be required included registering to vote, filing petitions for relatives to obtain immigration benefits, or perhaps even obtaining health insurance. Consider it akin to a local birth certificate acquired under special circumstances.
The number of instances in which original proof of U.S. citizenship may be necessary are too numerous to list here, but needless to say, are often important issues that arise in a person’s life.
The Process of Obtaining a Consular Report of Birth Abroad
After the birth of a child abroad, it’s important to seek out information on obtaining a Consular Report of Birth Abroad as quickly as possible. The more time goes without obtaining this report, the more difficult it will be to secure all of the necessary information in the right place.
There are a few steps at this stage which will be necessary in procuring one for your child:
• Maintain all proper evidence of the birth. Documents highlighting the child’s birth are important, as are the documents that verify your citizenship status with the United States. It’s important to demonstrate that what you’re claiming happened – a child was born to one or two American parents while abroad – actually did happen. This is much easier to accomplish if you’re aware of the Consular Report of Birth Abroad from the beginning.
• Prepare the application for the Consular Report of Birth Abroad as thoroughly and accurately as possible.
• Contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate. This should be done as closely to the birth itself as appropriate—again, this expedites the process and ensures all of the proper documentation is in order.
Make sure to complete all information accurately. You’ll need to remain in contact with the State Department for any future issues as it relates to this Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza – Full-Service Immigration Law
It’s important to take actions as soon as possible if a child is born abroad. This process is complex and will take some work, but it is well worth the effort to obtain proof of your child’s U.S. citizenship in the form of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. If you think your child did acquire U.S. citizenship at birth, the skilled legal team at Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza can help. Contact us today for a confidential consultation about your case.