FAQs About Foreign-Born Children And Citizenship

In the United States, not being a legal citizen can limit some of your child's opportunities. For instance, without citizenship, your child might not be able to receive financial aid or even run for political office. If you are unsure whether or not your child will be regarded as a citizen or if you need to obtain citizenship for him or her, here is what you need to know.

What If You Are a Naturalized Citizen?

If your child was under the age of 18 at the time you became a naturalized citizen, he or she is considered to be a citizen if your child was legally in the country at the time. To be legally in the country, you had to have a green card allowing for your child's entry into the country. If your child is adopted, the law also covers him or her.

In this instance, your child only needs to obtain proof of citizenship from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. Form N-600 can be completed and submitted to the agency to receive proof.

What If You Were Born in the United States?

Regardless of where your child was born, if you and your partner were born in the United States, your child is considered an American citizen. You do not have to take any additional steps to prove your child's citizenship. 

It is important to note that if only the father was born in the United States, citizenship is not automatically extended to the child. The father has to legally acknowledge the child as his before the child reaches his or her 18th birthday. The acknowledgment must be in writing or through a court order, such as a child support order.

What If Your Child Is Not Considered a Citizen?

There are many other scenarios in which your child might not be considered to be a citizen. An attorney can help you determine if your child would need to follow the path to citizenship in order to remain in the country.

If your child is not considered to be a citizen, you can obtain citizenship for him or her by naturalizing. Once you become a citizen, your child can derive citizenship based on your legal status. Remember, you must ensure that your child is legally in the country by obtaining a green card. If your child is illegally at the country at the time you become a naturalized citizen, your chances of securing citizenship for him or her could be hurt.

To avoid any legal actions that could result in your child being deported, consult with an immigration attorney (such as one from Tesoroni & Leroy).