Adopted children might not be U.S. citizens

Imagine that you were adopted as a child from another country and grew up in New Jersey. You get your driver’s license, graduate high school and set out to create your way in the world. Then, you discover when an employer enters your information into the E-Verify system that you are not a U.S. citizen. It happens to thousands of adoptees every year.

Child Citizenship Act of 2000

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 applies to many adoptees. Under that law, an adopted child becomes a United States citizen automatically if one of the adopting parents is a U.S. citizen. The child must be under 18 years of age, and they must live with at least one of the adopting parents. The child must have been legally adopted under the laws of the country where the child was born.

Eligible children entered the country on an IR-3 immigration visa and became automatic citizens as soon as they were in the U.S. If your child was adopted from a country like China, Guatemala, Latvia and Vietnam, the child entered the country on an IR-4 immigration visa and became a U.S. citizen as soon as the adoption was finalized in a U.S. court.

People born before Feb. 27, 2001

If your adopted child was born before Feb. 27, 2001, then your child may not be a U.S. citizen. These children were issued Permanent Resident Cards when they were adopted. The status granted by these cards does not expire, even though the card says so, unless the child travels outside the U.S. for more than six months. The person needs a Certificate of Citizenship or a Certificate of Naturalization to be a U.S. citizen.

What happens if they do not have a certificate of citizenship or naturalization?

It is vital to apply for one by completing the Application for Naturalization, which is Form 400. If your child needs to become a naturalized citizen, then an attorney may be able to help.

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