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Citizenship and passports for an internationally adopted child

On Behalf of | Aug 8, 2023 | Passports & Travel |

Adoption is a good option for some couples or individuals who wish to build their families, but the process involves a lot of paperwork. This is especially true in cases involving international adoption.

When you adopt a child from another country, not only do you have to meet all the legal requirements of the other country, but also of the United States. That means a lot of boxes to tick on your to-do list. One of those to-do list items is securing a passport for your child.

First, note that the child get a passport from their country of origin, following the laws and rules of that country. To get a U.S. passport, the child must first be declared a U.S. citizen.

Citizenship for adopted children

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 clarified some of the legal issues involved All children born in the United States automatically have U.S. citizenship. Children born abroad can automatically have citizenship if they have at least one U.S. citizen parent.

When a U.S. citizen legally adopts a foreign-born child, they attain all parental rights, including the right to pass on U.S. citizenship. However, to establish naturalization for the child:

  • At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen and has been living in the United States or a U.S. territory for at least five years. In some cases, this requirement can be fulfilled by a U.S. citizen grandparent.
  • The child must be living abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
  • The parent must file a Form N-600K Application for Citizenship and have it adjudicated before the child reaches age 18. Parents living abroad may file the form and pay the accompanying fee in the foreign country.
  • Before age 18, the child must be interviewed and take an oath of allegiance to the United States in the presence of a U.S. Customs and Immigration Services officer. This requirement can be waived for very young children and others when appropriate.

Timing is everything

It can be very difficult to meet all the requirements of international adoption, passports and naturalization within the tight timeframes of international travel. It may be essential to seek out advice from professionals with experience in international adoption.