What Happens if My Child Has No Claim to US Citizenship at Birth?

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

One or both of these methods may be applicable in your case if your child is not a US citizen at birth. These methods are optional; if you do not pursue either of these methods before the child's 18th birthday or if you do not qualify then your child will have no claim to US citizenship by virtue of the parents' US citizenship. 

  1. Naturalization under Section 320 (child immigration) involves returning to the US with the child to take up “residence.” After having applied and been accepted for immigration, the child (born to or adopted by an American parent or parents) becomes a US citizen immediately upon arrival in the USA with his/her American parents. The August 28, 2019, USCIS Policy Alert specifies that living on a US military abroad does not constitute "US residency" for the purpose of conferring US citizenship on children born or adopted abroad. More information is available on the State Department site.
  2. Naturalization under Section 322 which involves having the child be sworn in as a citizen at a USCIS Field Office in the US after having completed the application by filing Form N-600K invoking the parent's or grandparent's 5-year US presence. For civilians, the swearing in has to take place in the US where the child is present under a visitor visa or visa waiver. For US military personnel, the swearing in can take place at one of the four designated overseas military bases where naturalization of service members and their family members is possible. This is the only exception for military personnel. For all other questions of “presence” and “residence” the same rules apply to civilian, military and government personnel, as explained in the August 28, 2019, USCIS Policy Alert. More information is available on the USCIS site.


See the flowchart below explaining the applicability of these procedures:


In this Section

Child Citizenship Act of 2000

Naturalization Under Section 322