Child Born Abroad

Is A Child Born Abroad Considered A U.S. Citizen?

Have you ever thought about your child’s citizenship status if he or she were born abroad? Let’s say you and your hubby are enjoying a babymoon in the Bahamas before the little one’s arrival. Unexpectedly, your baby decides to make it’s entrance much earlier than planned and you are now giving birth at a hospital in the Bahamas. For the sake of this example, we will start out by saying both parents are U.S. citizens. Does this automatically make the child born abroad a U.S. citizen?

Let’s begin with a quick lesson on U.S. citizenship. America follows the common law rule known as the Right of Soil. Basically what this means is the citizenship is determined by one’s place of birth. For example, anyone born in the U.S. or one of its territories (Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands or Guam), is considered a U.S. citizens regardless of whether or not their parents are. What if the child is born on a plane or a boat near U.S. territory? If the child is born at any U.S. ports/harbors or within 12 nautical miles of U.S. borders, they are considered U.S. citizens. A child born on a plane flying over the U.S. is also considered a U.S. citizen.

Despite a few minor complexities of the Right of Soilpassage, an act passed in February 2001 known as the Child Citizenship Act made the process a bit simpler. A child who is under the age of 18, was born outside of the U.S. and has at least one U.S. citizen parent, is automatically a U.S. citizen upon arrival into the country. However, this process only applies to those who continue to reside within the U.S. If the child is under the age of 18, was born outside the U.S, and lives abroad, the parents must apply for a naturalization of the child. In order to do so, the parents must have resided in the U.S. for five years prior to the child’s birth.

The U.S. Department of State outlines it as follows:

Birth Abroad in Wedlock to Two U.S. Citizen Parents – A person born abroad in wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother and a U.S. citizen father acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), if one of the parents has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the person’s birth.

Birth Abroad in Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen and an Alien (foreigner) – A person born abroad in wedlock to a U.S. citizen and an alien acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if the U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions prior to the person’s birth for the period required by the statute in effect when the person was born. For birth on or after November 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years prior to the person’s birth, at least two of which were after the age of fourteen. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for 10 years prior to the person’s birth, at least five of which were after the age of 14 for the person to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father – A person born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship if:

  1. A blood relationship between the person and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence.
  2. The father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the person’s birth.
  3. The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the person reaches the age of 18 years.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother – A person born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother and alien father on or before June 11, 2017, may acquire U.S. citizenship if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the person’s birth, and if the mother was physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the person’s birth.

We know how confusing some of the information surrounding this topic can be, and we hope the above was helpful. Once you’ve done the initial research on your situation, you might be ready to go ahead and gather the documents you need. VitalChek is proud to offer a fast and secure online service that lets you “skip the lines”!

Leave A Comment