Immigration And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Will my adopted child automatically be a US citizen?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2023 | Citizenship |

Citizenship generally allows foreign-born individuals to enjoy the same rights as other US citizens. This often applies to children US citizens adopted abroad, although circumstances may differ depending on their age.

Requirements for citizenship of children under 18

Adopted children younger than 18 may acquire citizenship if they satisfy the following requirements.

  • They have at least one parent who is a US citizen.
  • They have a lawful permanent resident status in the US.
  • They live in the country under the legal and physical custody of a US citizen parent.
  • The state where they live fully recognizes their adoption.

Children who become US citizens in this manner usually no longer need to apply for citizenship. Often, once these criteria are met, parents can then get a certificate of citizenship from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for their adopted child.

If you live abroad because of your job with the armed forces or the US government, your children may also qualify for citizenship. However, you and your adopted children may have to meet certain residence and physical presence requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) first.

Adopted children who acquire citizenship in this way might have to apply for a certificate of citizenship with the USCIS. They can then obtain their US passport after they secure the said document.

Requirements for children above 18

Adopted children older than 18 generally do not automatically become US citizens, even if their parents reside within the country. To become a US citizen, they usually have to apply for naturalization with the USCIS.

Becoming a US citizen can be a complex process for adopted children. There are even instances when people apply for naturalization only to find out they are already US citizens. Becoming more familiar with immigration laws can help you avoid such issues and ensure that your children enjoy the privileges of being a citizen of the USA.