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I am a US citizen residing abroad and want to give my child US citizenship. Should I file an I-130 or an N-600K?

By August 21, 2023Uncategorized
A happy family of 4

Both the I-130 and N-600K are commonly used options by US citizens to pass on US citizenship to a child born or adopted abroad. There are important differences in eligibility criteria, however, so it is important to choose the right vehicle that works best for your interests.

I-130, Petition for Immigrant Relative

Minor children under 21 years old of a US citizen are eligible to apply for a green card (lawful permanent resident status) under the immediate relative (IR) category. It is important to note that petitions in the IR category are always “current” in terms of visa priority dates, which means a visa is always available, and there is no backlog at any time because there is no cap on how many visas are issued in the IR category.

Because of this, if the child is already in the US on a non-immigrant status, the US citizen parent could file the I-485 Petition to Adjust Status concurrently with the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which would give the child the ability to continue living in the US while the I-130 petition is pending.

It is important to note that because of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), the child’s age is “frozen” upon filing of the I-130 and I-485, such that the child won’t lose eligibility during the time the I-130 is pending.

Once the I-130 Petition is approved and the I-485 Petition also approved, the child will gain the status of a lawful permanent resident (LPR). After 5 years of living in the United States as a lawful permanent resident (LPR), the child will be eligible to apply for naturalization which would confer them U.S. citizenship.

The definition of “child” in the US immigration laws also include stepchildren and adopted children. Not all stepchildren and adopted children qualify within this definition, however. Stepchildren can be eligible only if the marriage creating the stepchild-stepparent relationship occurred before the child turned 18. Adopted children are eligible only if all paperwork related to the adoption was completed before the child turned 16 and the US citizen parent has had legal and physical custody of the child for at least 2 years.

N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under Section 322

The N-600K is a different pathway that directly leads to citizenship for the child, and “skips” the green card step (permanent resident status). The N-600K shortens the time to citizenship and is an option open to a narrower category of children and may not work in all cases where the I-130 is applicable. The key differences with the I-130 include the below:

  • The N-600K is for children who regularly reside outside of the United States, typically living with a US citizen parent who regularly lives in a foreign country.
  • To be eligible for citizenship through N-600K, a child has to be younger than age 18 by the time the petition is decided and they take the citizenship oath. (By contrast, a child can be a beneficiary for an I-130 petition under the immediate relative category if they are younger than 21).
  • The US citizen parent or the US citizen’s own parent (the grandparent) must meet the “5-year physical presence” requirement in the US. This means the US citizen parent must have physically lived at least 5 years in the United States before applying; at least two years after they turned 14 years of age.
  • The child must currently be in the legal and physical custody of the US citizen parent who regularly lives abroad.
  • Unlike the I-130, filing the N-600K does not “freeze” an applicant’s age while the petition is pending. Therefore, it is possible that a N-600K is timely filed well before the applicant turns 18, but by the time when the petition is adjudicated, the applicant is no longer eligible to obtain citizenship.

Filing a family-based green card or citizenship application can be very complex and can be a time-sensitive project. We highly recommend seeking the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to navigate this system in the clearest way possible.

Related Posts:

Can my Family Members file a Green Card Application for Me? Can I get a Green Card through Family?

How long will I have to Wait for My Green Card? What is the Visa Bulletin?

How do I Begin a Family Based Green Card Case? What Do I have to Do to Get a Green Card Through Family? Adjustment of Status

How do I Begin a Family Based Green Card Case? What Do I have to Do to Get a Green Card Through Family? Consular Processing 

What happens to child who turns 21 years old while waiting for a priority date? My Child is Waiting for a Green Card – What if my Child turns 21?

How to obtain US Citizenship for your child born abroad: naturalization through Form N-600K | Scott Legal, P.C. (

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