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3 Common Questions About Citizenship for International Adoptees

The Office of Children’s Issues recently issued a notice in response to a high number of inquiries regarding citizenship for adopted children. Many have asked whether children adopted internationally have obtained U.S. citizenship and how to go about documenting U.S. citizenship if acquired.
Here, find answers to common questions regarding citizenship for adopted children from the Department of State and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

What is the Child Citizenship Act of 2000?

The Child Citizenship Act automatically grants American citizenship to certain foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizens. Adopted children who satisfy the following conditions before turning 18 will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship:

  • Qualify as a child as defined in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Be admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident, and
  • Be residing in the United States in the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent(s)

In order for a child to qualify under the CCA, the adoptive parents must have finalized the adoption in the United States or abroad.
For additional information, visit USCIS. Questions regarding Certificates of Citizenship for children who entered the United States with IR-3 or IH-3 visas can be directed to Child-Citizenship-Act@uscis.dhs.gov.

How do I know if my international adoption was finalized?

In order for the CCA to apply to your international adoption, your adoption must be “full and final.” Whether your adoption is considered full and final depends on the circumstances of your adoption and the type of visa your child received.
Generally, if your child receives an IH-3 or IR-3 visa, the adoption was finalized in his or her birth country, and your adoption will be considered full and final. If your child receives an IH-4 or IR-4 visa, they will not be granted citizenship until you finalize the adoption in the United States.
If you have any questions regarding your adoption finalization or citizenship for your child, speak with an adoption attorney.

How can I document my child’s U.S. citizenship?

There is no law requiring a U.S. citizen to have proof of his or her U.S. citizenship status. However, many adoptive parents choose to obtain evidence of their child’s citizenship. Upon finalizing your international adoption, you may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship issued by USCIS and/or a U.S. passport to obtain evidence of your child’s citizenship.
To learn more about the international adoption process and obtaining citizenship for your adopted child, contact an adoption attorney or adoption service provider to discuss your individual circumstances in more detail.