Biological or Adopted Children Residing in the U.S.
A child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Child Citizenship Act (CCA):
- At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization.
- The child is under the age of 18 years.
- The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent based on a lawful admission for permanent residence.
- An adopted child may automatically become a citizen under section 320 of the INA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under sections 101(b)(1)(E), (F) or (G) of the INA.
To qualify as a “child” for purposes of this section 320 of the INA, the individual must be unmarried. Also, a person who was born out of wedlock (meaning that the parents were not married at the time of the person’s birth), must be “legitimated” while under the age of 16 and while in the legal custody of the legitimating parent. See section 101(c)(1) of the INA. Finally, a stepchild who has not been adopted does not qualify as a child under this section.
A person who satisfies the requirements of section 320 of the INA before turning 18 automatically obtains citizenship without having to file an application. However, in order to obtain a certificate of citizenship from USCIS, an individual must file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Individuals who were age 18 or older on February 27, 2001, do not qualify for citizenship under section 320 of the INA as amended by the CCA. A person who was over the age of 18 on February 27, 2001, may, however, be a citizen under the law in effect prior to the enactment of the CCA. If you believe this may apply to you, please contact our office.