If I am a U.S. citizen, is my child a U.S. citizen?

If I am a U.S. citizen, is my child a U.S. citizen?

u.s. citizenA child who is born in the United States, or born abroad to a U.S. citizen(s) who lived in
(or came to) the United States for the required period of time prior to the child’s birth, is
generally considered a U.S. citizen at birth.
A child who is:

  • Born to a U.S. citizen who did not live in (or come to) the United States for the
    required period of time prior to the child’s birth, or
  • Born to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent or two alien parents who
    naturalize after the child’s birth, or
  • Adopted (stepchildren cannot derive or acquire citizenship through their stepparents)
    14 and is permanently residing in the United States can become a U.S. citizen by action of
    law on the date on which all of the following requirements have been met:
  • The child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence*; and
  • Either parent was a United States citizen by birth or naturalization**; and
  • The child was still under 18 years of age; and
  • The child was not married; and
  • The child was the parent’s legitimate child or was legitimated by the parent before
    the child’s 16th birthday (children born out of wedlock who were not legitimated
    before their 16th birthday do not derive United States citizenship through their
    father); and
  • If adopted, the child met the requirements of section 101(b)(1)(E) or (F) of the
    Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and has had a full and final adoption; and
  • The child was residing in the United States in the legal custody of the U.S. citizen
    parent (this includes joint custody); and
  • The child was residing in the United States in the physical custody of the U.S.
    citizen parent.

If you and your child meet all of these requirements, you may obtain a U.S. passport for the
child as evidence of citizenship. If the child needs further evidence of citizenship, you may
submit an “Application for Certificate of Citizenship” (Form N-600) to USCIS to obtain a
Certificate of Citizenship. (NOTE: A child who meets these requirements before his or her
18th birthday may obtain a passport or Certificate of Citizenship at any time, even after he or
she turns 18.)
*NOTE – Children who immigrated under the “IR-3” or “IR-4” categories must have had an
immigrant petition filed on their behalf before their 16th birthday; see answers to Question
26. All adoptions for any other type of immigration benefit, including naturalization, must
be completed by the child’s 16th birthday, with one exception: A child adopted while under
the age of 18 years by the same parents who adopted a natural sibling who met the usual
requirements.
**NOTE – The “one U.S. citizen parent” rule applies only to children who first fulfilled the
requirements for automatic citizenship (other than at birth abroad) on or after February 27,
2001. In order to qualify for automatic citizenship (other than at birth abroad) on or before
February 26, 2001, both of the child’s parents must have been United States citizens either
at birth or through naturalization**both parents if the child had two parents; the surviving
parent if a parent had died; the parent with legal custody if the parents were divorced or
legally separated; or the mother only, if the child had been born out of wedlock and the child’s
paternity had not been established by legitimation.