Having a child can leave you feeling overjoyed at the prospect of having a new life become part of your family. Of course, childrearing in any form can have its complications, and when your child's birth took place outside of the United States, you may wonder what impact that detail could have on his or her citizenship. Because immigration and citizenship concerns can often prove complex, feeling uncertain is understandable.
Typically, if you or your spouse has U.S. citizenship status, then your child will likely qualify for automatic acquisition of citizenship. However, some circumstances could make your child ineligible for this automatic acquisition, and therefore, you may want to learn more about the qualifications.
Married at time of birth
If you have a spouse at the time of your child's birth, your circumstances must meet one of the following scenarios in order for your child to acquire citizenship at the time of birth when born outside the country:
- You AND the other parent both have U.S. citizenship, and at least one of you lived in the United States before the child's birth.
- You OR the other parent has citizenship, and the citizen parent has had a physical presence in the U.S. for at least five years, two of which must have taken place after the 14th birthday.
In regard to the second scenario, the following circumstances could work toward time considered spent in the country:
- The citizen parent served abroad in the U.S. military
- The citizen parent stayed abroad as part of U.S. government employment
- The citizen parent spent time abroad due to employment with certain international entities
Additional circumstances could also come into play in relation to those three conditions.
Unmarried at time of birth
If you and the other parent were not married at the time of your child's birth, these two scenarios could result in your child acquiring automatic citizenship:
- Mother has U.S. citizen status and had a physical presence in the U.S. for a continuous period lasting at least a year.
- Father has U.S. citizenship and had U.S. nationality at the time of the child's birth. Additionally, clear evidence of a blood relationship between the father and child must exist.
Again, more circumstances could also come into play when determining automatic citizenship of a child with unmarried parents. If you have concerns regarding whether your child may qualify for automatic acquisition of citizenship, you may wish to gain legal assistance.