Child Citizenship

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 established the principle that if a child is under the age of 18 and one parent is a citizen, either by birth or naturalization, and the child lives in the U.S. with permanent residence, and the child is living under the custody of the parent, then the child is automatically a U.S. citizen. This equally extends to adopted children abroad. The adopted child under 18 would be automatically a U.S. citizen upon his/her admittance as a permanent resident.

Since February 27, 2001 a child admitted as a legal permanent resident and living in the U.S. or a child who was admitted prior to February 27, 2001who thereafter left but returned and was readmitted as a permanent resident after February 27, 2001 and is under 18, would also be automatically a U.S. citizen. An exception is provided for children of the armed services or U.S. federal employees living abroad. These children are able to be considered as legally residing in the U.S.

LEGAL CUSTODY

A child who resides with both biological parents who are not separated would be considered under the custody of the U.S. citizen parent. Legal custody would also include children who live with a surviving parent when the other parent has died; or an illegitimate child who has been legitimated and the child currently lives with his/her natural parent. For an adopted child legal custody follows the adoption decree. For divorced or separated parents, the Court decree regarding primary care would determine the issue of custody. Joint custody granted by a Court would be equivalent to legal custody of the child.

ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN

A child who has not been legitimated may be eligible for derivative citizen if his/her mother naturalizes. Step children have not been granted the right to automatic citizenship by the present law. A U.S. citizen child may apply for a certificate of citizenship and/or a U.S. passport.

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