International Adoption: U.S. Proof of Citizenship
Visas & Citizenship
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective on February 27, 2001, and has apparently created quite some confusion. Patti Urban, of Legal-Eaze, says, "Every child (adopted abroad) currently entering the U.S. must go through Immigration upon arrival. BCIS issues a Permanent Resident Card (even though, technically, if your child arrives on an IR-3 visa he/she is already a U.S. citizen). Your child, however, still retains the permanent resident status on the records with BCIS until a Certificate of Citizenship is issued. The only way to get the BCIS to change the status to U.S. citizen is to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. Forget about the passport unless you plan to take your child out of the U.S. The certificate of citizenship costs $145. It lasts a lifetime. Passports have to be renewed every 5 years until the child is 16; every 10 years after that -- for life! After all the money spent on home studies and social workers and adoption agencies
and dossiers and overseas
travel, why balk at the most important document your child will ever need. While your child may well be a citizen, you have to prove it." IR-3 Visa
Children arriving in the U.S. under an IR-3 visa are automatically U.S. citizens the moment they pass through Immigration, however, it appears that BCIS keeps them listed as "permanent residents" in their records. IR-4 Visa
If your child arrived in the U.S. under an IR-4 visa (meaning that the single parent
or both parents did not physically see the child before the adoption), then U.S. Citizenship was not granted (this also applies to any child who immigrated before February 27, 2001 under an IR-4 visa). In order for your child to become a U.S. citizen, he or she must be readopted in your home state. For Your New Citizen
In any event, once citizenship has been granted, you will still want to obtain proof of citizenship for your child. You, as the child's parent (one or both of whom are U.S. citizens), must file BCIS Form N-600 (formerly N-643), Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, on behalf of your child, in order for your child to receive a Certificate of Citizenship. Proof of Citizenship Packet
The Constitution gives many rights to citizens and non-citizens living in the U.S. However, there are some rights the Constitution only gives to citizens, like the right to vote, to acquire a U.S. passport, and to obtain U.S. Government protection and assistance when abroad.
To make filing for proof of U.S. Citizenship for your child as easy as possible, I've put together a Citizenship Packet for you to use with my compliments. It is designed to be completed by hand and mailed directly by you to the BCIS.
Download the free form, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child (Will require an Adobe reader.)
Print out the Sample Letter to the BCIS
The sample letter can be mailed to the BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration) address at 26 Federal Plaza in New York City for those families living in the following New York counties: Bronx, Kings (Brooklyn), New York City (Manhattan), Queens, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester. If you live anywhere outside this area, it is suggested that you contact your local BCIS District Office, write the address on a label, and place it over the existing address on the sample letter.
In addition, you should be aware that the 1996 Immigration and Naturalization
Act included, among other things, a provision requiring automatic deportation of non-citizen immigrants who are convicted of a felony charge. This means that an adopted child, arriving on an IR-4 visa, of U.S. citizens who fail to get the child U.S. citizenship by the time he or she is 18 years old, could be sent back to his or her country of origin following any felony conviction.
Therefore, it is urgent that any child arriving on an IR-4 visa go through the readoption process in his or her state as soon as possible. Your child then becomes a U.S. citizen upon the issuance of the Certificate of Adoption in your state. Once this is completed, you can then file for the Certificate of Citizenship as proof of citizenship.
I strongly urge all families to apply for and get a Certificate of Citizenship on behalf of their internationally adopted child as soon as possible. It takes only a short time to assemble the documents needed for your child's U.S. citizenship application... and a lifetime to enjoy its privileges! Is It Necessary?
The most frequently asked question is whether or not this step - and the additional cost - are necessary in addition to passports. Here are some facts about passports, certificates, and citizenship to help you decide for yourself:
Passports are issued by the State Department; Certificates of Adoption are issued by the BCIS (Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Service) which is a part of Homeland Security.
Every child (adopted abroad) currently entering the U.S. must go through Immigration upon arrival. BCIS issues a Permanent Resident Card (even though, technically, if your child arrives on an IR-3 visa he/she is already a U.S. citizen). Your child, however, still retains the permanent resident status on the records with BCIS until a Certificate of Citizenship is issued.
The only way to get the BCIS to change the status to U.S. citizen is to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship using Form N-600 (formerly N-643).
Passports expire, Certificates of Citizenship do not.
Immigration attorneys believe it is a necessary step. (See Adoptive Families
magazine, May/June 2002 issue.)
Passports are more likely to be stolen, given the enormous black market in passports.
Passports have been questioned, especially in the instance of multiracial and multicultural families.