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What Is The Child Citizenship Act Of 2000?

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 30, 2000, and became effective on February 27, 2001.

It amended the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and allowed children who were born outside of the US the opportunity to automatically acquire American citizenship if they were the biological or adopted children of American citizens. 

In order to be eligible for The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child must meet the legal definition of a child and the following requirements: 

  • The child has at least one parent who is a US citizen (by birth or naturalization)
  • The child is a minor and under the age of 18
  • The child lives in the US and is in the legal and physical custody of the American citizen parent
  • The child is a lawful permanent resident
  • If the child is adopted, the adoption should be finalized before applying for citizenship through The Child Citizenship Act of 2000

If the child meets the CCA requirements, they will automatically get American citizenship the day they receive admission into the United States as a legal permanent resident.

There's a lot of information about The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, which can make it quite confusing for people to understand. Today we're going to condense everything you need to know about the Act into one short blog post so you can easily understand what's involved. 

Legal Custody of U.S. Citizen Parent and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

Legal custody refers to the legal responsibility and the authority over a child. The USCIS presumes that a US citizen parent has legal custody of their child. Therefore, the USCIS recognizes that a parent has lawful authority over the child during any of the following scenarios:

  • If the child is biologically theirs and lives with both their biological parents, who are married and not separated 
  • If the child is biologically theirs and lives with the only living biological parent
  • If the child is biologically theirs but has been born out of wedlock, has been legitimated, and lives with the biological parent
  • If the child was adopted and the final adoption decree resides with the adoptive US citizen parent 
  • If the child's biological parent has been awarded primary care of the child after a divorce

USCIS also considers any US citizen who has been awarded joint custody to have legal custody over the child. 

Note: There might be other circumstances in which the USCIS finds that the US citizen has legal custody. The cases vary depending on the individual situation. Give Meimaris Law a call today to talk more about your case. 

What happens if a child is living outside the United States?

According to the CCA, children who live outside of the US with at least one US citizen parent may not automatically get citizenship. Instead, their US citizen parent must apply for naturalization on the child's behalf. 

The child will have to travel to the US temporarily to complete the naturalization process and take the Oath of Allegiance. The child will not be admitted as a permanent resident when traveling to the US. They may enter as a lawful nonimmigrant. 

For a child who lives outside of the United States to be eligible to get citizenship, they must meet the following requirements:

  • One of the child's parents is an American citizen
  • The American citizen parent has been present in the US for at least five years. Two of the years must have been when they were over the age of 14
  • If the child's American citizen parent cannot meet this physical presence requirement, an American citizen grandparent may file instead
  • The child is a minor and under the age of 18
  • The child lives outside the United States in the custody of their US citizen parent
  • The child must enter lawfully and be temporarily present in the United States for this purpose

It's important to note that an adopted child must also meet these requirements in order to get citizenship. 

To find out more information about this specific topic, read the other blog entitled “How a Foreign-Born Child Can Obtain US Citizenship Through a Parent or Grandparent”.

Can adopted children use The Child Citizenship Act?

A child that has been adopted and has at least one US citizen parent can also take advantage of The Child Citizenship Act of 2000. 

If you want your child to gain citizenship through the CCA, then they must follow the following regulations: 

  • If the child's adoption is completed abroad, but the child meets the requirements applicable under immigration law, then they will gain citizenship automatically on the day they're admitted to the United States as a legal permanent resident.
  • If the child was adopted from a country outside of the US and has at least one US citizen parent, then the child will become a citizen the day the citizen parent or parents complete the adoption procedure in their state of residence. This is required to obtain recognition of the foreign adoption.
  • If the child's adoption is completed in the US, then the child becomes a citizen when the final adoption decree is received.

Additional ways children of U.S. citizen parents can gain citizenship

In addition to the CCA's requirements, children born outside of the US and have one or two parents who are US citizens can also gain citizenship at birth in the following ways: 

  • If one of the parents is a US citizen when the child is born, and the child's birthdate is either on or after November 14, 1986, then the child can gain citizenship at birth. 
  • If one parent is a US citizen when the child is born, and the birthdate of the child is before November 14, 1986, but after October 10, 1952, then the child may also gain citizenship automatically at birth.

The parents must be married at the time of the child's birth, and the US citizen parent must have been present in the United States for at least five years, two years of which must have been after their 14th birthday. 

Although obtaining a certificate of citizenship is not required, any naturalized citizen will need proof of their US citizenship to apply for things like a US passport. 

If you're unsure what to do when it comes to figuring out whether The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 can be applied to you ro your child, you should consult with an attorney. 

The team at Meimaris Law would be delighted to help you and your child discover if they're eligible for The Child Citizenship Act of 2000. Discover if they can get citizenship even if they were born outside of the United States with help from our team. 

With over 25 years of experience behind us, we'll make the process as easy as possible for you and your family. 

Get in touch for a free consultation with our team to start talking about your child's citizenship today. 

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