The section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) as amended by the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) allows biological or adopted children residing outside U.S. to qualify for naturalization. Once the children enter the United States many foreign-born adopted children acquire U.S. citizenship. They are entitled to get a certificate of citizenship but they need not formally apply for US citizenship since they become citizens automatically.
Until certain criteria are met other foreign-born adopted children may have to wait after which they automatically acquire citizenship. Some need to formally apply for US citizenship especially children living abroad.
Requirements to apply
Following are the requirements to qualify:
• One parent at least should be living as U.S. citizen, else must have been one at the time of death.
• In the U.S. or its far-off properties the U.S. citizen parent or his or her U.S. citizen parent must have, or had at the time of death, been physically present for at least 5 years. This stay should include at least two of which after attaining the age of 14.
• Age must be under 18 years.
• The U.S. citizen parent must have legal and physical custody of the child residing outside of the United States. If the citizen parent is deceased consent of the individual in charge must be there.
• After a lawful entry for temporary period the child should be maintaining the status in the United States.
• The INA section 322 allows a child for naturalization if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under sections 101(b) (1) (E), (F) or (G) of the INA.
The person should be unmarried to qualify as a child for purposes of this section. Children born out of wedlock must have been legitimated while under the age of 16 and should be in the legal custody of the parents. Under this section stepchild who has not been adopted does not qualify as a child.
When applying for US citizenship Form N-600K must be filed on behalf of an eligible child for Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate under section 322 of the INA. The U.S. citizen parent must file the Form N-600K on behalf of the child. Otherwise U.S. citizen grandparent or U.S. citizen legal guardian may apply on behalf of the child within 5 years of the parent's death.
Before the child is 18 years old the whole process should be completed. The application must have been filed, approved and the child must take the oath of allegiance, if required, to obtain citizenship under section 322 of the INA.
Once the adoption is final and they lawfully enter the United States as permanent resident orphans adopted by U.S. citizen parent are citizens. Children who were adopted by a U.S. citizen parent and obtained lawful permanent resident status acquire citizenship automatically though they did not immigrate as orphans. Whatever be the case it’s important that the children are below 18 years of age.
Some service members who are on active duty, according to section 322(d) of the INA get a waiver from the requirement that the child be temporarily present in the United States and period of residence overseas on active duty is considered as residence in the United States.
To summarize the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form N-600 should be used for adopted children residing in the United States while filing for a certificate of citizenship and USCIS Form N-600K must be filed for adopted children residing outside the United States for naturalization.
Once naturalization is complete if required the child can obtain a U.S. passport.