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how do citizenship and naturalization apply to adopted children | godoy law office immigration lawyers

How Do Citizenship and Naturalization Apply To Adopted Children?

USCIS has updated and clarified how citizenship and naturalization provisions apply to adopted children. The new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance is effective immediately and supersedes all previous guidance on citizenship and naturalization for adopted children. This guidance addresses the requirements to meet the definition of a child for naturalization purposes and citizenship eligibility for adoptees residing in and outside of the U.S. 

Updated USCIS Guidance on Citizenship and Naturalization for Adopted Children

The updated USCIS guidance does not change the requirements for adopted children to become U.S. citizens. The updated guidance is intended to help adoptive families, and adoptees understand the requirements so adoptees may secure U.S. citizenship and documentation of their citizenship if they are eligible and choose to do so. The new guidance issued in April :

  • Describes requirements for adopted children to meet the definition of a child for citizenship and naturalization purposes, including having an adoption that is considered full, final, and complete for immigration purposes;

  • Explains eligibility for U.S. citizenship for adopted children who reside in the United States and how to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship;

  • Explains eligibility for U.S. citizenship for adopted children who reside outside of the United States and how to apply for citizenship and issuance of a certificate; and

  • Provides guidance on the acquisition of citizenship and naturalization when an adoption is disrupted or dissolved.

Requirements For Citizenship For Adopted Children

Under U.S. laws, children may obtain U.S. citizenship other than through birth in the United States. In general, persons born outside of the United States, including adopted children, may obtain U.S. citizenship after birth, before age 18, through a U.S. citizen parent.

Some children immigrating based on adoption automatically acquire U.S. citizenship when they are admitted to the United States as lawful permanent residents. Others do not, and their adoptive parents need to take additional steps before an adopted child turns 18 for the child to obtain U.S. citizenship through an adoptive parent. Adoptees who do not obtain citizenship through their adoptive parents before age 18 may be eligible to apply for naturalization after the age of 18.

It is important to understand the citizenship laws. These determine whether an adopted child is a U.S. citizen and which steps must be taken for the child to become one if they are not already a citizen. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 simplified matters. Children who are under 18 years of age and lawfully admitted as permanent residents will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship when their adoptive parents are U.S. citizens and meet certain other requirements, such as having a residence in the United States or its outlying possessions before the child’s admission as an immigrant.

However, there are still steps that adoptive parents need to take before an adopted child turns 18 for them to become a U.S. citizens. This can include applying for a Certificate of Citizenship or Naturalization.

If the parents do not apply for their adopted child’s citizenship before they turn 18, once the adoptee turns 18, they can apply for U.S. citizenship themself.

Do You Need Help With Citizenship for An Adopted Child?

It is important to note that the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship through adoption can be complicated. And it varies depending on individual circumstances. Therefore, it is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney. This will help ensure all the necessary steps are taken, and all relevant paperwork is filed correctly.

At Godoy Law Office, we understand the importance of securing citizenship for your adopted child. We have experience helping families with this process. We will be able to assist you in determining which documents need to be submitted. Plus, we provide legal advice throughout the entire application process. Contact us today at 630-912-0322

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