It is much more common nowadays than it has been in recent years to adopt children from foreign countries, for a myriad of reasons. However, in the past, new parents would run into difficulties obtaining the right visas or citizenship papers for their children. In 2000, the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) was passed, expediting the process for many new families and granting automatic citizenship to these newly adopted children.
Not every adopted child will qualify for automatic citizenship under the CCA. By definition, he or she must still be a child under American law; in other words, he or she must have been under 18 years of age on February 27, 2001—the date the law went into effect. However, if a child meets that requirement, there are only a few additional qualifications he or she must also fulfill. These include the following:
- At least one of the adoptive parents must be a U.S. citizen, though this can be done by birth or naturalization;
- The U.S. citizen parent has legal and physical custody of the child;
- The child is a lawful permanent resident (a ‘green card’ holder); and
- The child was adopted (or is being adopted) in a manner consistent with Section 101(b) (1) of the Immigration & Nationality Act; namely that the appropriate paperwork has been completed and approved by both American authorities and those in the child’s home country.
If a child does not meet all of these requirements, the law will still trigger when he or she does. For example, if a child is still in the process of obtaining permanent residency, he or she will automatically be granted citizenship once that process finishes, if he or she meets all of the other requirements.
Documents and Proof of Citizenship
It is important to note that just because citizenship is automatic does not mean that you will receive a passport or other documentation for the child; those still must be applied for. The rationale behind this is that many children simply do not travel out of the country for some time after they are adopted, especially if they are very small; a passport is not often necessary until a child gets older. A Certificate of Citizenship may be obtained by applying for it after taking the oath (or if a child is too young, the oath requirement may be waived), but it is not necessary to have one.
If a child resides abroad or does not otherwise qualify for citizenship under the CCA, he or she may still be naturalized; however, a parent must complete the standard process on his or her behalf that is followed by adults applying for citizenship. If the application is approved, the child may then enter the U.S. on a B-2 visa (personal) in order to take the oath and make everything official.
Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney
While this process has been streamlined for many children, there are still complexities and requirements to meet, and it is often a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney. The skilled DuPage County immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC understand that your primary objective is to get your child home as fast as possible, and we will work hard to help smooth out the process for you and yours. Contact our offices to set up a free initial consultation today.