Many Americans choose to adopt children from other countries for a multitude of reasons. If you’re considering adopting a foreign-born child, you may be concerned about whether they can be U.S. citizens and what the process for obtaining that citizenship is.
The good news is that this became much easier with the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA). Most children born outside the U.S. who are adopted by Americans are automatically eligible for U.S. citizenship.
The eligibility requirements
When the adoption is finalized and a child enters the U.S., they’re given lawful permanent resident status. Parents can then apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a citizenship certificate. Typically, as long as a child is under 18 and at least one adoptive parent is a U.S. citizen (either through birth or naturalization), they’re eligible to be a citizen. The adoption, of course, must be done in compliance with U.S. immigration laws.
Sometimes, Americans will decide to adopt a child while they’re living abroad. Once they return to the U.S. with their child, that child is typically still eligible to become a U.S. citizen. However, the process for obtaining that citizenship is somewhat different. For example, they need to file an application for naturalization during a visit to the U.S. Once they’re naturalized, they need to obtain a U.S. passport.
Get help with your immigration process
Adopting one or more children from abroad is a life-changing experience for both parents and children. Some of these children are escaping difficult, if not dire, circumstances. However, it can be a complicated and frustrating process. Having an experienced immigration attorney guiding you through it can make all the difference.