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Your child is an American citizen if he or she was born in the USA (except if the parents were foreign diplomats).

Your child is also a citizen if he or she was born abroad and both parents are US citizens at least one of whom resided in the US or possession.

If only one parent is a US citizen, that parent must have been physically present in the US or possession at least five years prior to the child's birth, at least two of which were after the age of 14. (For births before 14 November 1986, the American parent had to have been physically present in the US for at least ten years, at least five of which were after age 14.)  Note that starting June 12, 2017, due to a Supreme Court decision, the same rules apply for children born to unwed American mothers.  

Other rules apply for children born out of wedlock or born before 1952.

See the flowchart below or consult the Table of Transmission Requirements for determining possible US citizenship for children born abroad to an American mother and/or father.

As a general rule, children born abroad to a US citizen parent or parents should have their birth registered at the nearest US consulate before age 18.  If your child was registered at a US consulate at the time of birth and you wish to replace or amend this document (DS-1350 or FS-240 "Consular Report of Birth Aboad") you can access the Washington Office of the US Department of State using this link:

Note that if you, the American parent, have satisfied the US presence requirements before your child's birth, your child born abroad will always have a claim to US citizenship, even if you do not request a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.


What happens if my child is not a US citizen at birth?

Your child born abroad may perhaps not qualify for US citizenship at birth because the American parent(s) has not satisfied the US presence requirement.  There are two methods for possibly having your minor child (under age 18) NATURALIZED as a US citizen:

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (Section 320: child immigration)


naturalization under Section 322 (invoking the parent's OR grandparent's 5-year US presence using Form N-600K).

One or both of these methods may be applicable in your case if your child is not a US citizen at birth.


Citizenship flowchart

Flowchart for determining possible claims to US citizenship at birth since 1986.


This ACA webpage updated October 9, 2019