If you are a US Citizen permanently residing in a foreign country and have a child who was born outside the US and does not live in the US, your child does not automatically become a US citizen. In order for your foreign-born child to obtain US citizenship, you and the child must meet certain eligibility criteria and apply to USCIS to acquire US citizenship.
Section 322 of the INA provides that a child of a US citizen who regularly lives outside of the United States can apply for naturalization upon meeting the following criteria.
- The person is a biological or adopted child of a US citizen.
- The person must be less than 18 years old.
- The person must be living in the physical custody of the US citizen parent.
- The person’s US citizen parent or US citizen grandparent meets the US physical presence requirement, that the US citizen parent or grandparent was physically present for at least 5 years in the US in aggregate, 2 years of which must have been after the parent or grandparent turned 14 years of age;
The US Citizen parent or grandparent can use the Form N-600K to apply on behalf of their child to acquire US citizenship.
Special rules for adopted children
Adopted children living with a US citizen parent overseas can also use the Form N-600K to acquire US citizenship. To be eligible, two additional requirements must be met:
- The adoption must have taken place before the age of 16.
- The child must have been in the legal custody of, and has resided with, the adopting parent for at least 2 years.
To support the naturalization application, USCIS requires that the petitioning parent submit the following supporting documentation as evidence that the child and the parent meet the eligibility requirements:
- The child’s birth certificate or record
- Marriage certificate of the child’s parents, if applicable, and proof of termination of previous marriages, if applicable
- Evidence of US citizenship of qualifying parent (Birth certificate, Naturalization Certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a valid US passport, or Certificate of Citizenship).
- Documentation of legitimation if the child was born out of wedlock;
- Documentation of legal custody in case of divorce, separation, or adoption;
- Documents supporting the US citizen parent or grandparent meets the required physical presence requirements (school records, military records, utility bills, mortgages, contracts, attestations by organizations, insurance policies, etc.)
- Evidence of child’s lawful US entry to be presented at the interview.
After submitting the N-600K Form, the second step is the interview, which in most cases will be conducted inside the US. You (the US citizen parent) and your child must appear in person to be interviewed by a USCIS officer. Depending on his or her citizenship, your child must secure a visitor visa or other authorization to enter the US as a temporary visitor to attend the interview.
To the interview, you should bring all originals of the documents submitted to support your N-600K application (with certified translations, if applicable). You should also bring copies of your child’s valid admission (e.g., I-94) issued upon entering the US as a visitor.
USCIS requests a minimum of 90 days to review the form and the documentation. The child must complete the adjudication and take the Oath of Allegiance before their 18th birthday in order to be eligible to receive the Certificate of Citizenship. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you file your Form N-600K well in advance and set the preferred interview date at least 90 days before your child’s 18th birthday.
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