Child Citizenship Act of 2000

Citizenship Through Adoption

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), adopted foreign-born children are automatically eligible for US citizenship if their parents are citizens of the United States. Adoptive foreign-born children automatically gain citizenship the date that they immigrated to the US, as long as they meet the following criteria:

  • One or both parents are a legal citizen of the United Sates
  • They are under the age of 18
  • Their adoption is complete and finalized
  • They are a permanent resident of the United States

In order for adopted children to gain US citizenship automatically under the Child Citizenship Act, they must meet the criteria established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) regarding adoption. As per the INA, adopted children are those who:

  • Are legally adopted prior to turning 16 years of age.
  • Have been in legal custody of an adoptive US citizen parent for a minimum of two years.
  • Have physically lived with their adoptive US citizen parent for a minimum of two years.

Adoptive parents need to have legal custody of foreign-born children. To do so, adoptive parents must meet the laws of the state in which they reside and must have the approval of a court of law or another proper government entity. When children are considered an adopted child as per the INA, they will automatically gain US citizenship, as long as they meet the criteria outlined above.

Certificate of Citizenship

As per the Citizenship Through Adoption, adoptive children automatically acquire US citizenship if they meet all of the necessary criteria and nothing else needs to be done; however, securing a Certificate of Citizenship for the child is a wise idea, as it certifies that the child is, in fact, a legal US citizen. A Certificate of Citizenship can be acquired from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Adoptive foreign-born children automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship when the following apply:

  • Their adoption has been finalized.
  • Requirements for citizenship have been met.
  • Both parents met the foreign-born child either before or during foreign adoption proceedings.

If these conditions apply, foreign-born adoptive children will be admitted entry into the US under IR-3 or IH-3 and a Certificate of Citizenship will be granted. For children who do not meet the eligibility requirements, adoptive parents can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by filing form N-600, the Application for Certificate of Citizenship, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

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