Like other Texas residents, you may have assumed that, because your child was born to you, a U.S. citizen, he or she automatically receives the same citizenship. That would probably be the case if your child was born here in the United States but may not be if the birth took place in another country.
Even if you return to the U.S. with your child, it may be prudent not to make the assumption that he or she is an American citizen. Instead, you may need to take certain steps to secure your child's citizenship prior to the age of 18. Thereafter, everyone could be in for an unpleasant surprise if the law considers your child not to be a native of this country.
In some cases, it's automatic
Under the circumstances below, your child may automatically receive U.S. citizenship:
- Your child is still under the age of 18 upon entering the country.
- You or the other parent is a U.S. citizen and the biological or adoptive parent of your child.
- Your child now lives in the country in the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
- The law recognizes your child as a lawful permanent resident.
Upon meeting these criteria, your child should have no trouble receiving recognition as a citizen of this country. However, it will still be crucial to submit the proper forms in order to make it official.
In some cases, it's not
If you, as a U.S. citizen, and your child regularly live outside the country, you may need to take extra steps to ensure that immigration officials do not call your child's citizenship into question. In order to do so, your child must meet the following criteria:
- Your child must be under the age of 18 when applying for citizenship.
- You or the other parent must be a U.S. citizen.
- You or your child's grandparent must meet certain physical presence requirements here in the U.S.
- You have legal and physical custody of your child as he or she resides outside the country.
- When making application for citizenship, your child must enter the country legally, physically live here in the U.S. and maintain lawful status during the application process.
The only exception to the last criteria is for the children of U.S. military personnel residing outside the country.
An immigration attorney could prove invaluable
While the immigration climate here in the U.S. remains unpredictable and even volatile, it may be a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney if you have any questions regarding your child's citizenship status.