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Child Citizenship Act

On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective. The aim of this law, which, among other things, amends Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is to facilitate the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for both biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad and who do not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. The bill eliminates the current requirement that the parents of such children submit an application to have their children naturalized. It applies equally to all children of U.S. citizen parents who are lawfully admitted for permanent residence, regardless of whether or not they were adopted. Children born abroad automatically become U.S. Citizens under the following conditions: 

  1. At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization.
  2. The child is under the age of 18.
  3. The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent after having been lawfully admitted into this country as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence (i.e. the child is a green card holder).

If the child has been adopted, the adoption must be final. Children who have immigrated to the United States in order to be adopted become citizens as soon as the adoption decree is final.

To determine if you are a derivative citizen through naturalization of your parents, you must first figure out if you turned 18 before or after February 27, 2001, the effective date of the Child Citizenship Act of 2001.  Children under the age of 18 on February 27, 2001 should follow the laws and regulations of the Child Citizenship Act of 2001.  Those children who were over 18 years old must follow the older and stricter rules of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

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