U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child

 

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

U.S. Passport*

Issued by U.S. Department of State (DOS)

Visit travel.state.gov for more information, including full instructions, current fees and application.

U.S. Certificate of Citizenship

Issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Visit uscis.gov 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.

Note: 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, an adopted child will automatically acquire citizenship upon being admitted into the United States if he or she satisfies these conditions:

  • Qualifies as an “immediate relative” under INA 101(b)(1)(E), (F), or (G),

  • Is admitted as a lawful permanent resident (LPR),

  • Is residing in the United States in the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ legal and physical custody, and

  • Is under 18 years old when all of these conditions are met.

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

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

Visa Classification

Green Card or Citizenship

Note
If the child was admitted with an IR-2 visaThe child will receive a Green Card (also known as a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551) 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 step-children, who do not acquire citizenship under INA 320, USCIS 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 the Form N-600 with the fee, and if approved, the adopted child will be issued a Certificate of Citizenship.

If the child was admitted with an IR-4 or IH-4 visa

The child will receive a Green Card (also known as a Permanent Resident Card or Form I-551) by mail.Generally, an IR-4 or IH-4 child will acquire U.S. citizenship once the parent(s) 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.
If the child was admitted to reside permanently in the United  States with an IR-3 or IH-3 visaThe child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship by mail if all INA 320 requirements are met.USCIS began automatically issuing Certificates of Citizenship on Jan. 1, 2004. If a child entered on an IR-3 visa before this date, they would not have been issued a Certificate of Citizenship automatically and should file Form N-600 with the fee to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.

Note: If a child does not acquire citizenship from the original petitioning adoptive parent(s), the child may still be eligible to acquire citizenship if later adopted by different U.S. citizen parent(s), provided they meet all the requirements of INA 320.

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.

General Eligibility: (Please refer to the chart below for more specific guidance.)

  • The adopted child meets the definition of child under INA section 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G);
  • The child is under 18 years of age when all conditions are met; and
  • The child must have at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization).

Child Will Reside Inside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 320)

Child Will Reside Outside the U.S.

(Pursuing U.S. Citizenship under INA Section 322)

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

File Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

Additional Requirements:

  • The child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent after being lawfully admitted as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Note: Please refer to the Form N-600 filing instructions for information about required evidence, fees, and where to file. You do not need to file Form N-600 for an adopted child that:

  • Was admitted to the U.S. with an IH-3 or IR-3 visa on or after January 1, 2004, and
  • Met all of the INA 320 requirements when being admitted into the United States as an LPR to reside permanently in the United States.

The child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship automatically by mail.

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

How to Obtain a Certificate of Citizenship

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

Additional Requirements:

  • 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 his or her status; and

  • Child must take the Oath of Allegiance before a USCIS officer while under the age of 18, unless waived.

Note: On the Form N-600K, petitioners 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 USCIS receives and processes the form, USCIS will send an appointment notice to the family to appear for an interview at a domestic USCIS field office on a particular date.

The family may apply for a B-2 visa or other available nonimmigrant visa for the child to travel to the U.S. and must pay the required fee. A nonimmigrant visa is not needed if the child obtains an immigrant visa and is admitted as an LPR but will not be residing in the United States. The family may apply for the visa at the same Department of State (DOS) post that processed their adoption case or apply at another post if they currently live in a different country. Please note that only the Department of State may issue visas.

The Certificate of Citizenship will show the date the child takes the Oath of Allegiance as the date of naturalization. If the oath was waived, then the date of naturalization will be the date USCIS adjudicated the Form N-600K.

 

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

  • An adopted child of a U.S. citizen military member does not need to travel to the United States and may be naturalized without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process if the child:
    • Is accompanying and residing with their parent abroad on official orders, and
    • Qualifies for naturalization under section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Additionally, a U.S. citizen parent who is a member of the military may count any period of time they resided abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.
  • An adopted child of a U.S. citizen military member or government employee who is temporarily stationed abroad is considered to be residing in the United States for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320. Parents of such children may file a:
  • USCIS cannot mail Certificates of Citizenship outside the United States except in cases involving military members stationed overseas or when the dependent child of a military member stationed overseas is granted citizenship under section 322 of the INA. In these situations, USCIS can mail the certificates to a USCIS field office abroad.

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, USCIS may deny a form N-600K filed on behalf of the same child. The 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 a Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 for your child:

  • USCIS may deny the application if the child already has a U.S. passport.
  • USCIS may 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 a Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship for an adopted or biological child, USCIS 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.

*NOTE: The information on this page is meant to be a general guide. The charts provide an overview of citizenship issues related to adopted children and this page is not a definitive policy document. The facts of individual cases will be reviewed and adjudicated 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. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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