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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

ABCs of Immigration - Naturalization - Children
by Greg Siskind and Amy Ballentine

There are a number of ways for children under 18 to obtain US citizenship other than filing an application for naturalization on their own behalf. In some cases, they are naturalized when their parents are, and in some cases, when certain conditions are met, they can become citizens automatically. As with many laws dealing with citizenship and naturalization, the laws dealing with children have a long and complex history. However, much of this complexity was eliminated earlier this year, when the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 went into effect.

Under the Child Citizenship Act, there are three primary requirements. First, at least one parent must be a US citizen, whether by birth or by naturalization. Second, the child must be under 18, and third, the child must be living in the US in the custody of the citizen parent and be a permanent resident. Both natural and adopted children are treated the same under this law.

The Child Citizenship Act provides automatic citizenship to qualifying children, once all the requirements are met. No naturalization process is required, and the child can obtain proof of citizenship either by filing an application for a Certificate of Citizenship with the INS or an application for a US passport with the State Department.

Children who do not qualify for automatic citizenship under this law may still obtain naturalization. They must have one citizen parent, whether through birth or naturalization, and the parent must meet certain residency requirements (typically having lived in the US for a minimum of five years, two of them after age 14). The child must be in the physical and legal custody of the citizen parent, and must be lawfully in the US, although they are not required to be a permanent resident. The application can be filed from abroad, but the child must be in the US before he or she will be naturalized.


About The Author

Gregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, Gregory Siskind went on to receive his law degree from the University of Chicago. For the past several years, he has been an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and he currently serves as a member of the organization's Technology Committee. He is the current committee chair for the Nashville Bar Association's International Section. Greg is a member of the American Bar Association where he serves on the LPM PublishGregory Siskind has experience handling all aspects of immigration and nationality law and has represented numerous clients throughout the world. Mr. Siskind provides consultations to corporations and individuals on immigration law issues and handles cases before the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Department of State, the Department of Labor and other government agencies. Gregory Siskind is also committed to community service. He regularly provides free legal services to indigent immigration clients and speaks at community forums to offer information on immigration issues.

Greg regularly writes on the subject of immigration law. He has written several hundred articles on the subject and is also the author of the new book The J Visa Guidebook, published by Matthew Bender and Company, one of the nation's leading legal publishers. He is working on another book for Matthew Bender on entertainment and sports immigration.

Greg is also, in many ways, a pioneer in the use of the Internet in the legal profession. He was one of the first lawyers in the country (and the very first immigration lawyer) to set up a web site for his practice. And he was the first attorney in the world to distribute a firm newsletter via e-mail listserv. Mr. Siskind is the author of the American Bar Association's best selling book, The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. He has been interviewed and profiled in a number of leading publications and media including USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Lawyers Weekly, the ABA Journal, the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Law Practice Management Magazine, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the Washington Post. As one of the leading experts in the country on the use of the Internet in a legal practice, Greg speaks regularly at forums across the United States, Canada and Europe.

In his personal life, Greg is the husband of Audrey Siskind and the proud father of Eden Shoshana and Lily Jordana. He also enjoys collecting rare newspapers and running in marathons and triathlons. He can be reached by email at GSiskind@visalaw.com

Amy Ballentine is an associate in Siskind, Susser & Haas's Memphis, Tennessee office. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rhodes College in 1994. While in law school at the University of Memphis she was a member of the law review staff as well as a published author. She also worked with the local public defenderís office in death penalty cases. In May 1999, she graduated Cum Laude from the University of Memphis Law School. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. She can be reached by email at aballentine@visalaw.com



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