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How do I acquire U.S. citizenship for my child adopted abroad?

In 2000, a new Child Citizenship Act (CCA) was passed that made it possible for parents adopting children from abroad to automatically acquire United States citizenship for their once-orphaned child.

Up until the act was passed some 18 years ago, the process involved that American parents had to follow to qualify their child to receive U.S. citizenship involved countless steps and waiting periods associated with the naturalization process.

Under the CCA, there are five simple requirements that must be met in order for an foreign-adopted child to qualify for automatic American citizenship.

First, the child must be under the age of 18 at the time of the adoption. Second, at least one of the child's parents must be a U.S. citizen at the time he or she becomes the child's parent.

The mom or dad filing the U.S. citizenship petition for their son or daughter must also retain both physical and legal custody of the child, who must also have been permitted entry to the country as a lawful permanent resident.

Finally, the adoption must have been finalized in order for the child to be eligible to acquire automatic U.S. citizenship.

Minor children who are brought to the United States on either an IR-4 or IH-4 visa automatically qualify to receive U.S. citizenship once their adoption is finalized. It is necessary, however, for a child's parents to complete the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Form N-600 so that they can issue a Certificate of Citizenship in such a case.

Acquiring U.S. citizenship for your adopted child right away is critical to ensure that they are eligible to legally work, apply for college scholarships, vote and carry out any number of civic responsiblities it affords them. Not acquiring citizenship for your child may put them at risk of deportation.

If you're in the process of adopting an orphan from abroad, then a Norcross child citizenship attorney can provide guidance as to how to go about acquiring U.S. citizenship for them.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Acquiring U.S. citizenship for your child," accessed May 11, 2018

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