Requirements for a child to be a U.S. Citizen

Breaking News!
The Visa Bulletin for September 2023 is showing that priority date for F2A spouse and children of Lawful Permanent Resident to be currently processing under the Filing Date Chart of the Visa Bulletin. This means that if you are in the United States and you petition your wife and children who are also in the U.S. they can file an adjustment of status and wait for the green card when the Fina Action Date becomes current.

When does a child of a US citizen becomes a US citizen?

A child of a U.S. citizen born abroad is a U.S. citizen by operation of law. However, the parents need to register them as a child of a U.S. citizen by applying for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) at the State Department. In the case of a child born to an immigrant who later naturalize, the child will be a U.S. citizen under certain requirements.

Under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA 320) it provides that children acquire U.S. citizenship if they satisfy certain requirements before age 18 which include:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization
  • Be admitted to the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence.
  • After admission to the United States, reside in the country in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent
  • If the child is adopted, his or her adoption must be full and final so that the adoption process is legally complete and fully recognized by the U.S. state where the child is residing.

What are the requirements if the parents and the child are residing outside the US?
If you and your child reside outside the United States, your child may apply for a certificate of citizenship through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under Section 322 of INA and take an oath of naturalization to complete the child’s citizenship acquisition. This includes children of U.S. government employees and members of the armed forces who live abroad with parents stationed outside of the United States. To acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 322, you must demonstrate to USCIS your child meets certain requirements before age 18 which include:

  • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization
  • Have a U.S. citizen parent who has been physically present in the United States for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are after age 14. If the child’s U.S. citizen parent cannot meet the physical presence requirement, one of the child’s U.S. citizen grandparents must meet it.
  • The child lives abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and is temporarily present in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission and is maintaining that lawful status.

Note: This is not a legal advice an is presented for educational purpose only. You may seek an appointment for consultation with our office for more information.


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Chris Caday Lozano, Esq. is an active member of the State Bar of California, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and San Francisco Trial Lawyers. He has practiced immigration law, bankruptcy, personal injury and income tax representation since June 1999. His contact phone is 1-877-456-9266, email: Website: with offices in Hayward and Cerritos, CA.

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