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February 27, 2001

Child Citizenship Act

Information for Adoptive Parents

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) is effective on February 27, 2001. The CCA represents a significant and important change in the nationality laws of the United States. Under the new law, most foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship on the date they immigrate to the United States. In the past, adoptive parents had to apply for naturalization for their foreign-born children, who did not acquire citizenship until the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) approved the application. On occasion, delays in the old application process left adopted children subject to deportation from the United States. The change made by the CCA to automatic acquisition of citizenship by operation of law permanently protects the adopted children of U.S. citizens from deportation.

INS will work with Congress, the adoption community and other stakeholders to re-engineer and streamline the process for receiving a Certificate of Citizenship. In the interim, parents who would like to wait for the re-engineered process before filing for a Certificate of Citizenship but wish to have documentation of their child’s status as a citizen, may file for a U.S. passport.

How many children will automatically become citizens on February 27, 2001?

INS estimates that 70,000 to 75,000 children will automatically become citizens on February 27, 2001. In addition, U.S. citizens adopt and immigrate approximately 20,000 foreign-born children each year. The vast majority of these children will benefit from the automatic citizenship provisions of the CCA.

Does my child qualify for automatic citizenship under the CCA?

Under the CCA, your child will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship on the date that all of the following requirements are satisfied:

  • At least one adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen,
  • The child is under 18 years of age,
  • There is a full and final adoption of the child, and
  • The child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant
Do I have to apply to INS for my child’s citizenship?

No. If your child satisfies the requirements listed above, he or she automatically acquires U.S. citizenship by operation of law. If you completed a full and final adoption abroad, your child automatically becomes a citizen on the day he or she is admitted to the United States as an immigrant. If you complete the adoption or have to re-adopt your child after your child has been admitted to the United States as an immigrant, your child automatically becomes a citizen on the day the full and final adoption is completed. Your child’s citizenship status is no longer dependent on INS approving a naturalization application.

Will INS automatically provide me with documentation of my child’s citizenship?

Unfortunately, INS is not able to automatically provide adoptive parents with documentation of their child’s citizenship at this time. However, INS will work with Congress, the adoption community and other stakeholders to re-engineer the current process of issuing Certificates of Citizenship for adopted children. This re-engineering will address both the application process and costs.

What documentation can I get of my child’s citizenship?

If you want documentation of your child’s U.S. citizenship, you may obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from INS and/or a U.S. passport from the Department of State. You do not need a Certificate of Citizenship issued by INS in order to obtain a passport for your child.

What forms do I file and what are the fees to obtain a certificate of citizenship?

If you want to file for a Certificate of Citizenship for your child at this time, file Form N-643, Application for Certificate of Citizenship in Behalf of an Adopted Child, with a $125 filing fee.

What documents do I have to submit with the Form N-643?

For children who have immigrated to the United States, parents will not be required to submit any evidence that is already contained in the INS file, including translations of documents.

If your child has immigrated to the United States (has a "green card") after a full and final adoption abroad, you should submit the following with the Form N-643:

  • Photographs of your child, and
  • Fee

If your child has immigrated to the United States (has a "green card") to be adopted or re-adopted, you should submit the following with the Form N-643:

  • Photographs of your child,
  • Fee,
  • Evidence of a full and final adoption, and
  • Evidence of all legal name changes (if applicable)
After review of the application, INS may ask that you submit additional documents to establish your child’s citizenship status, but these requests generally only will occur in cases where discrepancies need to be resolved between the application and INS records.

Will INS require an interview to adjudicate the Form N-643?

An interview generally will not be required for obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship under the CCA. However, INS may request an interview if discrepancies between the application and INS records need to be resolved.

Where Should I File the Form N-643?

File the Form N-643, with required supporting documents, at the INS district office or suboffice in the United States that has jurisdiction over your place of residence.

Will my child be harmed if I wait for INS to re-engineer its process to document my child’s citizenship?

No. Your child’s citizenship status will not be negatively affected if you wait for INS to re-engineer its process before you document your child’s citizenship. If your child satisfies the requirements for automatic acquisition of citizenship, his or her citizenship is obtained by operation of law and cannot be lost by failure to document it. You can obtain a passport from the Department of State, even if you decide to wait for INS to re-engineer its process. As part of those efforts INS intends to implement a streamlined process for the automatic issuance of Certificates of Citizenship.

Will the re-engineering address the affidavit of support requirement?

Yes. The INS intends to remove the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) requirement for children adopted abroad who will receive citizenship at the time of entry as lawful permanent residents. This is the vast majority of cases. However, children born and residing outside of the United States or children who will not be adopted until after they enter the United States will still require the affidavit of support.

Is automatic citizenship provided for adopted children living outside the United States?

No. In order for a foreign-born child living outside the United States to acquire citizenship, the U.S. citizen parent must still apply for naturalization on behalf of the child. The naturalization process for such a child cannot take place overseas. The child will need to be in the United States temporarily to complete naturalization processing and take the oath of allegiance.

To be eligible, a child must meet the following requirements:

  • The child has at least one U.S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);
  • The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for at least five years, at least two of which were after the age of 14–or the U.S. citizen parent has a citizen parent who has been physically present in the United States for at least five years, at least two of which were after the age of 14;
  • The child is under 18 years of age;
  • The child is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States–having entered the United States lawfully and maintaining lawful status in the United States; and
  • The child must meet the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration law
If the naturalization application is approved, the child must take the same oath of allegiance administered to adult naturalization applicants. If the child is too young to understand the oath, INS may waive the oath requirement.

Is automatic citizenship provided for those who are 18 years of age or older?

No. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001, do not qualify for citizenship under the CCA, even if they meet all other criteria. If they wish to become U.S. citizens, they must apply for naturalization and meet eligibility requirements that currently exist for adult lawful permanent residents.

Will INS publish regulations on the new CCA procedures?

The INS is working to streamline and re-engineer the current process for obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship. In the meantime, INS has issued field guidance on the interim process and is working on regulations to codify procedures for adjudications under the CCA.

What is INS doing with currently pending applications for certificates of citizenship?

For pending applications filed to recognize citizenship status already acquired, INS will continue to adjudicate such applications under the relevant law applicable to the case. For applications that required INS approval before an individual could be deemed a U.S. citizen, INS will adjudicate those cases under current law until February 27, 2001. On February 27, 2001, INS will adjudicate those cases under the new law and, for applicants who automatically acquire citizenship as of the effective date, INS will issue certificates of citizenship reflecting the person’s citizenship as of that date.

What other resources are available to answer questions about the new law?

For more information about the CCA application procedures and forms, you may go to the INS Web site at www.ins.usdoj.gov or contact INS’ National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. INS has also made available field guidance and public materials to all information officers and other front line staff to aid them in answering questions.

— INS —


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