How can children born or residing abroad obtain U.S. citizenship?

Some parents in Kentucky choose to adopt a child from abroad, or other circumstances may exist in which a child born to a U.S. citizen resides abroad. In either of these cases, the child’s parents may want the child to obtain U.S. citizenship. There are processes under United States law that allow this goal to be achieved.

The Immigration and Nationality Act outlines how children born abroad, who now reside in the United States, can become citizens. These children will automatically be granted citizenship if all the following elements are satisfied.

First, at least one of the child’s biological or adoptive parents must be a U.S. citizen, either by being born in the United States or through naturalization. Second, the child must be under 18-years-old. Third, the child must be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Finally, the child must be residing in the U.S. under the legal and physical custody of the parent with U.S. citizenship.

The INA also outlines how children residing abroad can become citizens. These children will be eligible for naturalization if all the following elements are satisfied.

First, at least one of the child’s parents or grandparents are citizens of the United States and meet specified physical presence requirements. Second, the child must be under 18-years-old. Third, the U.S. citizen parent must have legal and physical custody of the child residing abroad. If the U.S. citizen parent has died, then the child must be in the custody of a person who does not have any objection to the child applying for naturalization. Finally, the child must be lawfully admitted into the United States, maintaining a physical and lawful presence in the nation from the time when the citizenship application is approved to the time the person is naturalized.

Parents who wish to have their children naturalized must make sure that they meet all the necessary requirements, so they can submit a comprehensive and complete application for citizenship. Any mistakes in the process could delay approval, so it is important that parents seeking to have their children recognized as U.S. citizens get the information they need to understand the process necessary to make this happen.