Many parents in California have adopted children that were born in foreign countries. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, foreign-born adopted children become U.S. citizens as soon as they enter the U.S. with their adoptive parents. Adoptive parents do not need to apply for citizenship on behalf of their foreign-born adopted children, though they may wish to request a citizenship certificate.
Foreign-born adopted children are eligible for automatic U.S. citizenship under the CCA as long as they have one U.S. citizen adoptive parent, they are in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent and they are under the age of 18 when they enter the U.S. The law also requires the adopted child to have been adopted legally, in accordance with relevant immigration laws.
If a U.S. citizen adopts a child overseas and then resides overseas with the child, the child may still be eligible for U.S. citizenship. However, the parent must apply for naturalization on behalf of the child during a visit to the U.S. before the child’s 18th birthday. To obtain a certificate of citizenship, the parent of an adopted child living in the U.S. must file Form N-600 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
A U.S. citizen who is living abroad may want to consult an immigration attorney about naturalizing an adopted child. An attorney may be able to help the parent to make sure that all of the documentation is in order before a planned trip back to the U.S. If the U.S. citizen has other family members overseas that are eligible for naturalization, an attorney may help with their citizenship claims as well.