Chapter 5: Child Residing Outside of the United States (INA 322)
A. General Requirements: Biological, Legitimated, or Adopted Child Residing Outside the United States See Nationality Chart 4.
The CCA amended the INA to cover foreign-born children who did not automatically acquire citizenship under INA 320 and who reside outside the United States with a U.S. citizen parent. See INA 322.
A biological, legitimated, or adopted child who regularly resides outside of the United States is eligible for naturalization if all of the following conditions have been met:
The child has at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or through naturalization, (including an adoptive parent). Adoptive parent must meet requirements of either INA 101(b)(1)(E), INA 101(b)(1)(F), or INA 101(b)(1)(G).
The child’s U.S. citizen parent or citizen grandparent meets certain physical presence requirements. See Section C, Physical Presence of U.S. Citizen Parent or Grandparent.
The child is under 18 years of age.
The child is residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent, or a person who does not object to the application if the U.S. citizen parent is deceased.
The child is lawfully admitted, physically present, and maintaining a lawful status in the United States at the time the application is approved and time of naturalization.
There are certain exceptions to these requirements for children of U.S. citizens in the U.S. armed forces accompanying their parent abroad on official orders.
B. Eligibility to Apply on the Child’s Behalf
Typically, a child’s U.S. citizen parent files a Certificate of Citizenship application on the child’s behalf. If the U.S. citizen parent has died, the child’s citizen grandparent or the child’s U.S. citizen legal guardian may file the application on the child’s behalf within five years of the parent's death. As of November 2, 2002, a U.S. citizen grandparent or U.S. citizen legal guardian became eligible to apply for naturalization under this provision on behalf of a child. See the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act for Fiscal 2002, Pub. L. 107-273 (November 2, 2002), which amended INA 322 to permit U.S. citizen grandparents or U.S. citizen legal guardians to apply for naturalization on behalf of a child if the child’s U.S. citizen parent has died.
C. Physical Presence of the U.S. Citizen Parent or Grandparent See INA 322(a)(2). See 8 CFR 322.2(a)(2).
1. Physical Presence of Child’s U.S. Citizen Parent
A child’s U.S. citizen parent must meet the following physical presence requirements:
The parent has been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least five years; and
The parent met such physical presence for at least 2 years after he or she reached 14 years of age.
A parent’s physical presence is calculated in the aggregate and includes time accrued in the United States during periods when the parent was not a U.S. citizen.
2. Exception for U.S. Citizen Member of the U.S. Armed Forces
The child’s U.S. citizen service member parent may count any period of time he or she has resided abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States. See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 9, Spouses, Children, and Surviving Family Benefits, Section C, Children of Military Members. See INA 322(d). See 8 CFR 322.2(c).
3. Reliance on Physical Presence of Child’s U.S. Citizen Grandparent
If the child’s parent does not meet the physical presence requirement, the child may rely on the physical presence of the child’s U.S. citizen grandparent to meet the requirement. In such cases, the officer first must verify that the citizen grandparent, the citizen parent’s mother or father, is a U.S. citizen at the time of filing. If the grandparent has died, the grandparent must have been a U.S. citizen and met the physical presence requirements at the time of his or her death.
Like in the case of the citizen parent, the officer also must ensure that:
The U.S. citizen grandparent has been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least five years; and
The U.S. citizen grandparent met such physical presence for at least 2 years after he or she reached 14 years of age.
Like the citizen parent, a grandparent’s physical presence is calculated in the aggregate and includes time accrued in the United States during periods when the grandparent was not a U.S. citizen.
D. Temporary Presence by Lawful Admission and Status in United States
1. Temporary Presence and Status Requirements
In most cases, the citizenship process for a child residing abroad cannot take place solely overseas.
The child is required to be lawfully admitted to United States, in any status, and be physically present in the United States; See INA 322(a)(5). See 8 CFR 322.2(a)(5).
The child is required to maintain the lawful status that he or she was admitted under while in the United States; See INA 322(a)(5). and
The child is required to take the Oath of Allegiance in the United States unless the oath requirement is waived. See INA 322(b). See Section G, Decision and Oath of Allegiance.
2. Exception for Child of U.S. Citizen Service Member of the U.S. Armed Forces
Certain children of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces are not required to be lawfully admitted to or physically present in the United States. See Part I, Military Members and their Families, Chapter 9, Spouses, Children, and Surviving Family Benefits. See INA 322(d). See 8 CFR 322.2(c).
E. Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322 (Form N-600K)
A U.S. citizen parent of a biological, legitimated, or adopted child born outside of the United States who did not acquire citizenship automatically may file an Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (Form N-600K) for the child to become a U.S. citizen and obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. The application may be filed from outside of the United States.
If the U.S. citizen parent has died, the child's U.S. citizen grandparent or U.S. citizen legal guardian may submit the application, provided the application is filed not more than five years after the death of the U.S. citizen parent. See 8 CFR 322.3(a).
The child of a U.S. citizen member of the U.S. armed forces accompanying his or her parent abroad on official orders may be eligible to complete all aspects of the naturalization proceedings abroad. This includes interviews, filings, oaths, ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to citizenship and naturalization.
F. Documentation and Evidence
The applicant must submit the following required documents unless such documents are already contained in USCIS administrative record or do not apply. See 8 CFR 322.3(b).
The child's birth certificate or record.
Marriage certificate of child's parents, if applicable.
Proof of termination of any previous marriage of each parent if either parent was previously married and divorced or widowed, for example:
Divorce Decree, or
Evidence of United States citizenship of parent:
FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad,
A valid unexpired United States Passport, or
Certificate of Citizenship.
Documents verifying legitimation according to the laws of the child's residence or domicile or father's residence or domicile if the child was born out of wedlock.
Documentation of legal custody in the case of divorce, legal separation, or adoption.
Documentation establishing that the U.S. citizen parent or U.S. citizen grandparent meets the required physical presence requirements, such as school records, military records, utility bills, medical records, deeds, mortgages, contracts, insurance policies, receipts, or attestations by churches, unions, or other organizations.
Evidence that the child is present in the United States pursuant to a lawful admission and is maintaining such lawful status or evidence establishing that the child qualifies for an exception to these requirements as provided for children of members of the U.S. armed forces. See INA 322(d)(2). Such evidence may be presented at the time of interview when appropriate.
Copy of the full, final adoption decree, if applicable
For an adopted child (not orphans or Hague Convention adoptees), evidence that the adoption took place before the age of 16 (or 18, as appropriate) and that the adoptive parents have had custody of, and lived with, the child for at least two years. See INA 101(b)(1)(E). See Chapter 2, Definition of Child for Citizenship and Naturalization, Section C, Adopted Child.
For an adopted orphan, a copy of notice of approval of the orphan petition and supporting documentation for such petition (except the home study) or evidence that the child has been admitted for lawful permanent residence in the United States with the immigrant classification of IR-3 (Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen) or IR-4 (Orphan to be adopted by a U.S. citizen). If admitted as an IR-4 because there was no adoption abroad, the parent(s) must have completed the adoption in the United States. If admitted as an IR-4 because the parent(s) obtained the foreign adoption without having seen the child, the parent(s) must establish that they have either “readopted” the child or obtained recognition of the foreign adoption in the State of residence (this requirement can be waived if there is a statute or precedent decision that clearly shows that the foreign adoption is recognized in the State of residence). See 8 CFR 320.1.
For a Hague Convention adoptee applying under INA 322, a copy of the notice of approval of Convention adoptee petition and its supporting documentation, or evidence that the child has been admitted for lawful permanent residence in the United States with the immigrant classification of IH-3 (Hague Convention Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen) or IH-4 (Hague Convention Orphan to be adopted by a U.S. citizen). If admitted as an IH-4, the parent(s) must have completed the adoption in the United States.
Evidence of all legal name changes, if applicable, for the child, U.S. citizen parent, U.S. citizen grandparent or U.S. citizen legal guardian.
An applicant does not need to submit documents that were submitted in connection with:
An immigrant visa application retained by the American Consulate for inclusion in the immigrant visa package, or
An immigrant petition or application and included in a USCIS administrative file.
If necessary, an officer may continue the application to request additional documentation to make a decision on the application.
G. Citizenship Interview and Waiver
In general, an applicant must appear in person for an interview before a USCIS officer after filing an Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (Form N-600K). This includes the U.S. citizen parent or parents if the application is filed on behalf of a child under 18 years of age. See 8 CFR 322.4. USCIS, however, waives the interview requirement if all the required documentation necessary to establish the applicant's eligibility is already included in USCIS administrative records or if any of the following documentation is submitted along with the application. See 8 CFR 341.2. See Section F, Documentation and Evidence.
H. Decision and Oath of Allegiance
1. Approval of Application, Oath of Allegiance, and Waiver for Children under 14 Years of Age
If an officer approves the Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (Form N-600K), USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance before issuing a Certificate of Citizenship. See 8 CFR 322.5(a) and 8 CFR 337.1. See INA 337. See Part J, Oath of Allegiance, Chapter 2, The Oath of Allegiance.
However, the INA permits USCIS to waive the taking of the Oath of Allegiance if USCIS determines the person is unable to understand its meaning. See INA 337(a). See 8 CFR 341.5(b). USCIS has determined that children under the age of 14 are generally unable to understand the meaning of the oath.
Accordingly, USCIS waives the oath requirement for a child younger than 14 years of age. If USCIS waives the oath requirement, USCIS issues a Certificate of Citizenship after the officer approves the application.
2. Denial of Application
If an officer denies the Certificate of Citizenship application, the officer must notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for denial and include information on the right to appeal in the notice. See 8 CFR 322.5(b) and 8 CFR 103.3(a). An applicant may file an appeal within 30 days of service of the decision.