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How to ensure that your adopted child retains U.S. citizenship

The Bureau of Consular Affairs at the U.S. State Department recommends that all American parents take time to procure citizenship for their internationally-adopted children in accordance with the Child Citizenship Act.

Under that act, which was signed into law 17 years ago, it reportedly made what once was a complicated process of acquiring citizenship for foreign-born, non-biological children a much easier process. Prior to that, parents applying for citizenship for these children were required to pay much more and go through additional steps.

Any child adopted abroad by at least one American parent qualifies for automatic citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act. The adopted child must, however, be under the age of 18 when the adoption occurs and must also meet a number of other conditions.

First, the parent who is the American citizen must be the one who retains both physical and legal custody of the child. Second, the child's parents must ensure that he or she qualifies to legally reside in the country on a permanent basis. Third, the adoption must not be pending, but instead have been finalized.

In cases in which your child's adoption doesn't comply with the conditions previously outlined, it may still be possible to acquire citizenship for them.

Initially, you'll need to take out an IH-4 or IR-4 visa for your child. When you do that, your child will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship from the moment their adoption is finalized. To confirm citizenship has been conveyed, parents can contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and request a Certificate of Citizenship by submitting a Form N-600.

Children who reached the age of majority prior to February 27, 2001 were not granted U.S. citizenship under this act. Many have only come to learn of this when they've attempted to obtain passports, jobs, loans or register to vote. Others have only found out about their citizenship status when they've had run-ins with the law.

In cases like this, many learned that they're at risk of being deported. Even so, they may still be eligible to apply for citizenship via naturalization in this case.

Whether you're a parent adopting a child from abroad or you were adopted prior to the Child Citizenship Act going into effect, a Norcross child citizenship attorney can advise you of your right to U.S. citizenship.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Acquiring U.S. citizenship for your child," accessed Sep. 15, 2017

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