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Diplomat in the U.S. – How Can I be Sure my Child Receives Citizenship at Birth?

Man and woman holding newborn baby

I am a diplomat in the U.S. and just had a child. How can I be sure whether my child will receive citizenship at birth?

Background

Most children born in the U.S. are U.S. citizens at birth. One of the very few – if not the only – exceptions to this rule is that children born in the U.S. to “foreign diplomatic officers” (those whose names appear on the Department of State’s “Blue List”) do not receive U.S. citizenship at birth. Instead, these children have the option to register as lawful permanent residents.

Confirm your diplomatic status and immunity

It is important to keep in mind that it is a minority of diplomats who have full diplomatic immunity in the U.S. – and whose children, therefore, are not born as U.S. citizens. Therefore, before concluding whether or not your child received U.S. citizenship at birth, it is important to first confirm that you were, in fact, a “foreign diplomatic officer” whose name actually appeared on the Department of State’s Blue List (or on the United Nations Blue Book) at the time your child was born. As explained in an earlier post here, the Blue List is the definitive source for determining whether an individual has full diplomatic immunity.

The current edition of the Blue List is available here. The U.S. government has made archived versions of the Blue List from 1997 to 2016 available online at the following websites:

For further assistance, or for years not covered by the archives listed above, you may reach out to the Office of the Chief of Protocol at protocolhelp@state.gov.

If you are a representative of the United Nations, you may review the current edition of the UN Blue Book here. Archived versions of the UN Blue Book are available at the Dag Hammarskjold Library, which can be contacted following the information here.

Should I simply apply for a passport for my child?

In general, we recommend that you first confirm your diplomatic status before applying for a passport for your child. If your name appears on the Blue List, your child likely was not born a U.S. citizen and therefore would not be eligible to receive a U.S. passport. While the U.S. government does erroneously grant passports to such children, the U.S. government can – and frequently does – revoke an individual’s passport years after it was first issued if it is discovered that the individual actually does not have U.S. citizenship. This often occurs when the individual applies to renew their passport, and the government notices that the renewal application and supporting documents show that his or her parents were diplomats at the time of birth. If the individual has received a U.S. passport, voted, completed a Form I-9 for employment, or has taken other specific actions that could represent a false claim to U.S. citizenship, this could complicate future immigration benefits the individual might apply for.

Can I register my infant as a lawful permanent resident?

Yes. As detailed in an earlier post here, a child born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomatic officer can register as a lawful permanent resident.

To request creation of a record of lawful permanent residence, the individual (or their parent, if the child is under 18 years old) would file Form I-485 with the required fee and supporting documentation (including, but not limited to, their birth certificate, a list of their arrivals to and departures from the U.S., proof of continuous residence in the U.S., and two photographs). Note that the applicant would also need to waive any privileges and immunities they received pursuant to their parent’s diplomatic status by filing Form I-508. See 8 CFR 264.2 for additional details on the application process and required documentation.

Notably, a parent can sign the required forms on behalf of the child, thus making it possible to register an infant for lawful permanent resident status.

When can my child become a U.S. citizen?

A child born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomatic officer must wait until they turn 18 before applying to naturalize, and thus to become a U.S. citizen. The child would need to have maintained their lawful permanent resident status and meet all other requirements to naturalize – these requirements are described here.

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