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Adoptee Rights Campaign: Citizenship Rights for Adult Intercountry Adoptees

According to the Adoptee Rights Campaign, since the close of WWII,  Americans have adopted more than 500,000 children from more than 100 countries. The Adoptee Rights Campaign is advocating for federal legislation advocating to grant citizenship to those adopted as children by U.S. citizens. Proposed in, the Adoptee Citizenship Act will close a loophole in international adoptions where children were adopted by U.S. citizens but not granted United States citizenship. Many of the adoptive parents, as well as the intercountry adoptees, are not aware they are not U.S. citizens until they:

  • apply for a passport
  • enter military service
  • have their voter registration challenged
  • show proof of citizenship for employment eligibility documentation

H. R. 1593 provides for “automatic acquisition of United States citizenship for certain internationally adopted individuals, and for other purposes.” It has not yet passed.

Adult Intercountry Adoptees

It is unclear how many adult intercountry adoptees who are not U.S. citizens exist, but it is in the tens of thousands. Since the enactment of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, children who are adopted from abroad by U.S. citizens generally receive automatic citizenship, and adoption agencies and embassies are better at informing parents about any follow-up they need to do. The law was retroactive to children under 18 (pre-1983) when it went into effect. However, adults in intercountry adoptions before 2000 are finding many challenges more frustrating than paperwork – including:

  • the risk of deportation
  • federal charges for illegal voting

How You Can Apply for Naturalization

Naturalization is the process for a person to apply to become a permanent U.S. citizen voluntarily. The naturalization process can take a long time, and there are many steps to prepare for it, including:

  • Evaluation of citizenship eligibility
  • Overcoming any barriers to ineligibility
  • File USCIS Form N-400
  • Get fingerprinted and other biometric requirements
  • Attend a citizenship interview
  • Attend an oath ceremony where you are granted U.S. citizenship and say the Pledge of Allegiance

Additional challenges exist for adult intercountry adoptees to provide required documentation that may be difficult to find and address. And legal matters that may have arisen because they did not know they were not American citizens.

Cook and DuPage County Citizenship Lawyer

An experienced citizenship lawyer could help you navigate complicated and stressful citizenship and naturalization requirements if you were adopted from a foreign country as a child. Mario Godoy and the other immigration attorneys at the Godoy Law Office can assess your situation and advise you on your best options. Call today at 630-912-0322.  

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