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How children born overseas acquire U.S. citizenship - II

Last time, our blog discussed how more U.S. citizens than ever are now choosing to establish residences abroad for work, school or even personal reasons. We also discussed how many of these U.S. citizens aren't letting their new living arrangements impede their long-term family plans, as many are having children in their adopted homelands.  

In light of this reality, we started examining an issue that is undoubtedly of considerable importance to these U.S. citizen parents: whether their newborn automatically acquires citizenship. To that end, we examined those scenarios where both parents are married U.S. citizens, and where one parent is a U.S. citizen married to a foreign national. We'll continue this discussion in today's post.

The mother is a U.S. citizen, but unmarried at the time of birth

The Immigration and Nationality Act dictates that when a child is born abroad to a U.S. citizen mother outside of marriage, he or she may acquire U.S. citizenship if 1) the mother held her U.S. citizenship at the time of birth, and 2) was physically present in the U.S. or one its territories for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth.

Furthermore, the U.S. citizen mother must be the genetic or gestational parent, and treated as the legal parent under local law.  

The father is a U.S. citizen, but unmarried at the time of birth

The INA also allows a child born to a U.S. citizen father outside of marriage to acquire U.S. citizenship, but the underlying standards are a bit more exacting. Indeed, the following elements must be satisfied:

  • The existence of a blood relationship between the newborn and the U.S. citizen father must be demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence.
  • The father must have had the nationality of the U.S. at the time of the child's birth.
  • The U.S. citizen father must have been physically present in the U.S. or one its territories for at least five years in their life prior to the birth, with at least two of these years being after their 14th birthday.
  • The U.S. citizen father, unless deceased, must sign a written agreement promising to provide financial support for the child until they reach the age of 18.

Furthermore, while the child is under 18, he or she must also 1) be legitimated under the law of their domicile, 2) secure a written document under oath from the U.S. citizen father acknowledging paternity or 3) establish paternity via adjudication of a competent court.

Consider speaking with a skilled legal professional if you have questions about this important issue or the process of securing citizenship in general.

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