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US Citizenship For Children

Though one can become a citizen voluntarily through the Naturalization process, some are granted this status being born in the US or born to US citizen parent(s).

Children born outside to US citizen parents can claim US citizenship through their parents’ status subject to certain strict requirements which makes the process very much sophisticated. The immigration law at the time the child was born is also vitally important while claiming citizenship through the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). But the process is pretty simple for children born in the US as they automatically become US citizens, immaterial of whether their parents were US citizens or not.

If your child was born in the US, you can directly apply for a US passport as a proof of his/her US citizenship. Should you want to document your child’s citizenship status, you can file Form N- 600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship with the USCIS to get the citizenship certificate.

There are a combination of requirements that are to be satisfied before applying for child citizenship. One such criteria is that at least one parent was a US citizen when the child was born and should have lived in the US or its possessions for a stipulated period of time. Additionally, child(ren) born outside the US can also claim citizenship after birth based on their parents’ citizenship or naturalization.

As stated above, you can become a US citizen only if you fulfill certain important conditions. Few are:

– You should be under 18 years old and at least one of your parents should be a US citizen, either by birth or through Naturalization.

– You should reside in the US in the legal and physical custody of your US citizen parent and is subject to lawful admission for permanent residence in the US.

– To qualify as a “child” for the purpose of getting a certificate of citizenship through your parents’ status, you (the child) should not be married. If you are born out of wedlock, you should have been “legitimated” when you were under 16 years old and in the legal custody of the legitimating parent. But if you are a stepchild who was not adopted, you will not qualify as a “child” for citizenship purposes.

– If you meet the above mentioned requirements before becoming 18 years old, it means you establish the eligibility for US citizenship without having to file an application. Make note however, if you want to document your citizenship status, you have to file Form N-600.

– Per the CCA, if you were 18 years old or older as of February 27, 2001, you will not be eligible for citizenship, under this classification. You however, can apply for naturalization (Form N-400) based on qualifying on your own. There is also another option where persons above the age of 18 as on February 27, 2001, are eligible to apply for a citizenship certificate per the law in effect before the enactment of the CCA.

Even if you the biological or an adopted child who regularly resides abroad, you can still qualify for citizenship. This however, has additional requirements to be met.

Children born outside to US citizen parents can claim American citizenship through their parents’ status subject to certain strict requirements. Per the CCA, if you were 18 years old or older as of February 27, 2001, you will not be eligible for citizenship, under this classification. You however, can apply for naturalization, by filing the citizenship form, N-400 based on qualifying on your own.

Foreigner Widows to US Citizen Spouses

When an American Citizen dies before a foreign fiancee has a chance to adjust status, the law is very arbitrary as it can deny US Immigration benefits to the widow of an American Citizen.

American Immigration law is very complex because it is based largely upon Federal statutes. Some facets of United States Immigration are very complex and one area which is very complicated occurs at the convergence of two events that no multi-national couple wants to think about: untimely demise and loss of lawful status in the USA.

In situations where a visa is based upon marriage to an American Citizen, in order for a foreign fiancee to ultimately acquire lawful permanent residence without conditions; the foreign spouse must pass through a series of due diligence inquiries in order for the government to be certain that the underlying marriage is genuine. To a certain extent, the US government begins scrutinizing a couple the moment a United States Citizen files an application to sponsor a foreign fiancee for a K1 visa. Upon preliminary approval, the file will be sent to the US Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over the foreign fiancee’s residence. The Consulate will interview the applicant and if satisfied that the marriage is genuine, they will issue a K1 visa. The non-Citizen fiance will subsequently be required to pass through a port of entry in the United States of America. Agents of the Department of Homeland Security will make certain that the entrant is not inadmissible.

After being lawfully admitted to the USA, the foreign fiancee will have 90 days to marry the American Citizen and adjust status to permanent residence. In most cases, the marriage is executed and the foreign spouse is approved for adjustment, thereby making her a conditional lawful permanent resident. Once two years has elapsed the non-Citizen Spouse and the Citizen Spouse will need to file to have the non-Citizen’s conditionality of residence lifted and thereby make the non-Citizen an unconditional lawful permanent resident. The “Widow’s Penalty” can come into play before either the approval of the adjustment of status or the approval of the petition to lift of conditions of residence. If the American Citizen spouse dies prior to the approval of either of these petitions, then it can create a difficult situation for the foreign spouse because the applicant no longer meets the requirement for a lifting of conditions or adjustment.

Therefore, the foreign widow could fall out of status because they are no longer married to an American. United States Federal Courts have tried to deal with this issue by interpreting the law in such a way that allows foreign widows to stay in America. The Department of Homeland Security has also taken measures to defer inspection of foreign widows and widowers in order to provide a sort of amnesty for those placed in such a difficult position.

This issue has not been fully dealt with as there are many conflicting interpretations of the current law. In general, the mood of the courts seems to be in favor of doing away with this so-called penalty because implementing the law in its current form leads to unfair outcomes for immigrants already present in the USA.

Guest Author

Ben Hart