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U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

 

Documents That Generally Serve as Evidence of U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

Type of Document Issuing Authority Related Information
U.S. passport* U.S. Department of State Visit travel.state.gov for more information, including full instructions, current fees and application.
U.S. Certificate of Citizenship USCIS Visit our adoptions page for more information, including full instructions, current fees, and application.

*All passport applicants must prove their U.S. citizenship and identity to receive a U.S. passport. A Certificate of Citizenship is generally sufficient to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport for an adopted child. If the adopted child has not received a Certificate of Citizenship, you must submit other proof of acquisition of citizenship, including a certified copy of the final adoption decree (and translation if not in English) and evidence the child met all the conditions in section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) while under the age of 18.

Some federal agencies may check immigration systems to verify citizenship status. USCIS systems will not be updated with a child’s citizenship status unless the family obtains a Certificate of Citizenship.

Lawful Permanent Residence or Citizenship Upon Being Admitted into the U.S.

Under section 320 of the INA, adopted children will automatically acquire citizenship upon being admitted into the United States if they:

  • Qualify as an “immediate relative” under INA 101(b)(1)(E), (F), or (G);
  • Are admitted as a lawful permanent resident (LPR);
  • Are residing in the United States in the U.S. citizen parents’ legal and physical custody (unless an exception applies as noted below); and
  • Are under 18 years old when they meet all of these conditions.

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) says foreign born children who meet certain conditions automatically acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 320. The CCA went into effect on Feb. 27, 2001. The child must have been under the age of 18 on Feb. 27, 2001, to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 320.

If the child does not qualify for a Certificate of Citizenship when admitted as an LPR under one of the visa classifications shown in the table below, they will automatically become a U.S. citizen once they meet all the conditions listed above. If they cannot meet those conditions, they may remain an LPR and may apply for naturalization under INA 316 once they are eligible. The chart below outlines the visa classifications, the process to obtain evidence of U.S. citizenship, and the documents that generally serve as evidence of the child’s LPR status or U.S. citizenship.

Visa Classification Type of Document Related Information
IR-2 The child will receive a Green Card (also known as a Permanent Resident Card) by mail.

A child admitted on an IR-2 visa may also acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 320 upon being admitted into the United States. 

However, because the IR-2 visa also includes stepchildren (who do not acquire citizenship under INA 320), we cannot assume that INA 320 applies to all children admitted with an IR-2 visa. For this reason, all IR-2 children receive a Green Card. 

If the adopted child meets all the conditions of INA 320, the family can file Form N-600 with the fee. If we approve it, the adopted child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship.

IR-4 or IH-4

The child will receive a Green Card by mail. Generally, an IR-4 or IH-4 child will acquire U.S. citizenship once the parents complete the adoption in the United States. If the adopted child meets all the conditions of INA 320 before the child’s 18th birthday, the family can file Form N-600 with fee to obtain a Certification of Citizenship.
IR-3 or IH-3 The child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship by mail if the child meets all INA 320 requirements. We began automatically issuing Certificates of Citizenship on Jan. 1, 2004. If a child entered the United States on an IR-3 visa before this date, we would not have automatically issued a Certificate of Citizenship to the child. The family should file Form N-600 with the fee to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.

If a child does not acquire citizenship from the original petitioning adoptive parents, they may still be eligible to acquire citizenship if later adopted by different U.S. citizen parents as long as the child meets all the requirements of INA 320, including requirements applicable to an adopted child under INA 101(b) with the new adoptive parents.

Obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship

If the adopted child does not qualify for a Certificate of Citizenship when being admitted to the U.S., you may still apply for one if your child satisfies the eligibility requirements. You must follow different processes to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship, depending on whether the adopted child resides inside or outside of the United States with the U.S. citizen parent.

Under general eligibility requirements, the adopted child must: 

  • Meet the definition of child under INA section 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G); 
  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization); and
  • Be under 18 years of age when meeting all of the conditions.

The table below has more information about eligibility requirements.

Where the Child Resides

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

Additional Information

Inside the U.S. (pursuing citizenship under INA 320; also applies to certain children of U.S. military members, U.S. government employees, and their U.S. citizen spouses, who are outside of the U.S. and who may acquire citizenship under INA 320, as described below)

File Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship

The child must be residing in the U.S. (except for certain children of U.S. military members, U.S. government employees, or their spouses, as described below) in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent after being lawfully admitted as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Please refer to the Form N-600 filing instructions for information about required evidence, fees, and where to file.

The Certificate of Citizenship will show the date the child met all the conditions under INA 320 as the date of citizenship.

Outside the U.S. (pursuing citizenship under INA 322, except as noted above)

File Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322

  • The application must be filed and adjudicated before the child turns 18 years old;
  • The U.S. citizen parent (or a U.S. citizen grandparent, if applicable) must meet certain physical presence requirements;
  • The child must be residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent (unless the parent is deceased);
  • The child must be temporarily present in the United States after being lawfully admitted and be maintaining their status; and
  • The child must take the Oath of Allegiance before a USCIS officer while under the age of 18, unless waived.

On your Form N-600K, you may request a specific USCIS office or preferred city and state for interview, as well as a preferred interview date that is at least 90 days after filing the Form N-600K. After we receive and process the form, we will send you an appointment notice to appear for an interview at a domestic USCIS field office on a particular date.

You may apply for a B-2 visa or other available nonimmigrant visa for your child to travel to the United States. Your child will not need a nonimmigrant visa if the child obtained an immigrant visa and is admitted as an LPR but will not be residing in the United States.

Only the Department of State may issue visas. You may apply for the visa for your child at the same Department of State post that processed your adoption case or you may apply at another post if you currently live in a different country.

The Certificate of Citizenship will show the date the child takes the Oath of Allegiance as the date of citizenship. If we waive the Oath, then the date of citizenship will be the date we adjudicated the Form N-600K.

 

Children of Military Service Members and U.S. Government Employees

Adopted children who meet the requirements of INA 101(b)(1)(E)(F), or (G) of U.S. service members or U.S. government employees, and certain children of their spouses, may automatically acquire citizenship under section 320 of the INA. This may include children of parents who are stationed and residing outside of the United States. For additional information on eligibility, see USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 4, Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship after Birth (INA 320).

We cannot mail Certificates of Citizenship outside the United States, except in cases involving service members stationed abroad or when the dependent child of a service member stationed overseas is granted citizenship under section 322 of the INA.

Children Who Already Have a U.S. Passport

If the U.S. Department of State (DOS) has already issued a U.S. passport to a biological or adopted child, we may deny a Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322, filed on behalf of the same child. Form N-600K is an application for citizenship, and a U.S. passport is evidence that the child is already a U.S. citizen. A person who is a U.S. citizen cannot be granted citizenship again.

Therefore, if you file Form N-600K for your child, we may:

  • Deny the application if the child already has a U.S. passport; or
  • Approve the application on a case-by-case basis if you include evidence showing that DOS revoked the U.S. passport and that the child no longer holds a U.S. passport.

If you file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, for an adopted or biological child, we may approve it even if the child has a U.S. passport. Unlike Form N-600K, Form N-600 is not an application for citizenship. It is an application for a Certificate of Citizenship for a person who is already a U.S. citizen.

The information on this page is meant to be a general guide. The charts provide an overview of citizenship issues related to adopted children, but this page is not a definitive policy document. We will review and adjudicate the facts of individual cases on a case-by-case basis. This page is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or by any individual or other party in removal proceedings, in litigation with the United States, or in any other form or manner.

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