The New Child Citizenship Act of 2000

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The INS did post a Background paper on the Child Citizenship Act and How to Get A Certificate of Citizenship. and

(In particular, it is clear that a child (fully adopted abroad) who enters the USA with an IR-4 visa, and who subsequently is not re-adopted in the USA, is as much a United States citizen as a child who enters
with an IR-3 visa, or a child fully adopted abroad who enters with an IR-4 visa and then is re-adopted.

(An IR-3 visa is issued for a child who is fully adopted abroad if and only if all of the persons who adopted the child personally saw the child before the adoption decree became final; otherwise an IR-4 visa is issued, namely for a child adopted abroad who was not seen, before the decree became final, by all of the child's adoptive parents, or for a child who comes to the USA with a decree of custody or guardianship, who will be adopted stateside, notwithstanding who did or did not see the child.)

These materials can be found on the State Department website at and at

The full text of the first url, is as follows:

Child Citizenship Act of 2000U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release
February 26, 2001

"Child Citizenship Act of 2000"

The "Child Citizenship Act of 2000" will become effective on Tuesday, February 27, 2001. This new law, which had the strong support of the Department of State, greatly streamlines the process by which foreign-born children of U.S. citizen parents can become U.S. citizens when they did not acquire citizenship at birth.

The Child Citizenship Act, which applies to both adopted and biological children of U.S. citizens, amends Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") to provide for the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship when certain conditions have been met. Specifically, these conditions are: One parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization; The child is under the age of 18; The child is residing in the United States as a lawful permanent resident alien and is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent; and

If the child is adopted, the adoption must be final. Under the previous law, internationally adopted children of a U.S. citizen did not automatically become citizens upon their admission into the United States as immigrants. Parents of these children were compelled, after having already completed the rigorous immigrant visa process, to apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a Certificate of Citizenship. This process could take months, if not years. Similarly, some foreign-born biological children of U.S. citizen parents were unable to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth because their parents did not meet the legal requirements for transmission of citizenship. While the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 does not alter these transmission requirements, it does provide for the automatic conferral of U.S. citizenship on these children once the first three criteria listed above have been met. Children under age 18 who have already fulfilled the above four conditions will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically on February 27, 2001. Children who have not yet fulfilled these conditions will acquire U.S. citizenship on the day the last of these criteria has been met, provided the child is still under 18 at the time. This new law is important not only because it eases the process the U.S. citizen parent must go through in order to gain U.S. citizenship for his/her foreign-born child, but also because it seeks to address the problem faced by families when a foreign-born child becomes subject to removal from the United States. Under prior law, foreign-born adopted children, in particular, could be subject to removal if they did not acquire U.S. citizenship after being brought to the United States - even if they had lived since infancy in the United States. While this Act will not remedy past cases in which such children were deported, it will ensure that this unfortunate possibility will be eliminated for most noncitizen adopted children under the age of 18 and all noncitizen children adopted by U.S. citizens into a household in the U.S. in the future. Tomorrow, February 27, 2001, some 75,000 children already residing in the United States with their U.S. citizen parents will automatically become U.S. citizens with the entry into effect of this Act. Thousands more children will automatically become U.S. citizens every year as they enter the United States with their U.S. adoptive parents. The Department of State is pleased to be playing a positive role in the lives of so many children and their parents, and we welcome our new fellow citizens into their larger American family.

The full text of the 2nd url, is as follows:

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT OF 2000FACT SHEET Child Citizenship Act Of 2000 Purpose On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 becomes effective. The aim of this law, which, among other things, amends Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is to facilitate the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for both biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad and who do not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. We are pleased to note that, because of this law, U.S. citizenship will be conferred automatically upon thousands of children currently in the United States.

The following are the Act's requirements:
At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization.
The child is under the age of 18.
The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and custody of the U.S. citizen parent after having been lawfully admitted into this country as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence.
If the child has been adopted, the adoption must be final.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q: Does the Act apply to foreign-born children who have immigrated to The United States in order to be adopted as well as to those who have been Adopted abroad?

A: Yes. Children who have immigrated to the United States in order to Be adopted become citizens as soon as the adoption decree is final.

Q: Does it matter in which order the requirements are met?

A: No. The order does not matter. Citizenship is acquired automatically as soon as all of the requirements have been met.

Q: Will a child who has met the requirements of this new law need to apply for a passport from the State Department or a Certificate of Citizenship from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in order to become a citizen?

A: No. As soon as the law's requirements have been met, the child acquires U.S. citizenship automatically without the need to apply for either a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship.

Q: What documents are required to obtain a passport for a child who became a U.S. citizen under the Act?

A: (1) Evidence of the child's relationship to a U.S. citizen parent (a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate for children born to an American or, if adopted, a certified copy of the final adoption decree);
(2)the child's foreign passport with INS's I-551 stamp or the child's resident alien card; and (3) the parent's valid identification.

Q: How does someone prove admission into the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence?

A: Either the child's permanent resident alien card, commonly known as a "green card," or an I-551 stamp placed in the child's passport by INS.

Q: How does a child demonstrate adoption in order to obtain a passport and/or Certificate of Citizenship?

A: By presenting a certified copy of a final adoption decree.

Q: Are the Act's provisions retroactive in applicability?

A: No. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001, will not be able to take advantage of the Act.

Q: What is the effective date of U.S. citizenship for children who met all the requirements of the new law prior to February 27, 2001?

A: February 27, 2001. Even though the requirements were met before the Act's effective date, citizenship is only acquired on that date.

Q: Will U.S. Embassies and Consulates issue reports of birth to children acquiring citizenship pursuant to this Act?

A: No. Reports of birth are issued only to children who acquire citizenship at birth.

The Act's Other Provisions

Another section of this new law provides that children (biological and adopted) of U.S. citizens who are born and reside abroad (that is, they do not enter the U.S. as permanent residents) and who don't become U.S. citizens at birth can apply to INS for a certificate of citizenship if the following conditions are

At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization.
The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are were after the age of 14. If the child's U.S. citizen parent cannot meet this requirement, it is enough if one of the child's U.S. citizen grandparents can meet it.

The child is under the age of eighteen.
The child resides abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and has been lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant.

Children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically; rather, they must/must apply to INS for a certificate of citizenship and go through the naturalization process.


In light of the ease with which the State Department is handling this issue, and in light of the historical recalcitrance of the INS to interpret the immigration laws of our country in a way favorable to adopters, and in light of the delays that all INS offices have for all filings (such as I-600A and I-600), we are going to advise all clients, for the moment, to forego the possibility of filing for Certificates of Citizenship for their children adopted from abroad, and to instead file for US passports, as evidence of their children's US citizenship.

This advice will be particularly relevant to our adoption and/or homestudy clients who reside outside of the territorial borders of the USA.

So, for instance, if clients of ours who live in Netherlands adopt in Romania with us (or adopt in the PRC with one of our ex-pat homestudies, prepared by one of our overseas offices), and if the Government of the Netherlands then refuses (as it has been refusing for the last 2+ years) to allow the child to enter unless the child has also acquired US citizenship, we will then encourage the clients to fly with the child (i.e. one parent must fly with the child) directly from Romania or from the PRC, or from wherever, to any gate-way city in the USA that has an office of the US Passport Agency, and to use the $30.00-surcharge expedited service (usually same day or next day delivery of the passport) offered by the Passport Agency, to secure a US Passport for the child on the spot--and then fly home to the Netherlands.

By the way, the US Passport Offices in gate-way cities are as follows:
Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New
York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Seattle.

Of course, we hope that our clients who live in the USA will also follow this advice to the degree that it is applicable to them.

(Finally, even at this late date, it would not surprise us at all if the INS decides to refuse to issue Certificates of Citizenship for children fully adopted abroad who enter with IR-4 visas and who then are not re-adopted. But then again, please remember, that the INS calls itself the "Gatekeeper of America." Unfortunately, many times what a gatekeeper does best is to keep a gate closed.)

With the negative comments about the INS notwithstanding, we offer great Congratulations to All the New Citizens!

Bob Braun
International Families

Credits: Bob Braun

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