Child Citizenship Act of 2000
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 is a United States federal law that allows certain foreign-born, biological and adopted children of United States citizens to acquire United States citizenship automatically. These children did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth, but they are granted citizenship once conditions set forth in the law are met. For a child adopted overseas by U.S. citizen parents, the grant of citizenship comes upon entry to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, or when the adoption is finalized in the U.S., depending on the circumstances of the adoption. A foreign-born child of non-U.S. citizens, whether biological or adopted, will receive citizenship when at least one parent becomes a naturalized citizen. The law modified past rules for child citizenship.
To whom this act applies
The child must have at least one U.S. citizen parent by birth or naturalization, be under 18 years of age (at the time the law took effect, the child had to be born no earlier than February 27, 1983), live in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent, and be admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence. In addition, if the child is adopted, the adoption must be full and final.
Whether a child's adoption is "full and final" for purposes of the Act depends on the circumstances of the adoption. Children adopted outside the U.S. can enter the U.S. on one of five different types of visas.
Two visa types are issued to children adopted from countries that are parties to the Hague Adoption Convention. The U.S. entered into the Hague Convention on April 1, 2008, at which time the Hague process became mandatory for all international adoptions of children residing in countries that are parties to that convention.
- IH-3 — Children whose adoptions were "full and final" in the child's home country.
- IH-4 — Children whose adoptions will be finalized in the home jurisdiction of the adoptive parent(s).
Two other visa types were used for the vast majority of international adoptions before the U.S. entry into the Hague Convention, and remain in use for adoptions of orphans (which includes children abandoned by their parents) from non-Hague countries:
- IR-3 — Children whose adoptions were finalized in the child's home country.
- U.S. regulations for the IR-3 visa also require that both of the child's adoptive parents (or the unmarried adoptive parent, in those countries that allow single-parent adoptions) personally meet with the child in his or her country of residence during the adoption process.
- IR-4 — Children whose adoptions will be finalized in the home jurisdiction of the adoptive parent(s).
A fifth visa, IR-2, is used for adoptions that are both non-orphan and from non-Hague countries.
Examples of countries where adoptions are final under national law before the child enters the U.S. are China, which has entered into the Hague Convention, and Russia (as of January 1, 2013, closed to adoptions by U.S. nationals), which is a Hague signatory but has not yet ratified the Convention. As a result, children adopted from China typically enter on IH-3 visas and those from Russia on IR-3 visas. Other countries, among them Thailand, India, and South Korea, do not issue adoption decrees to non-nationals; children from those countries generally receive IH-4 visas (Thailand and India) or IR-4 visas (South Korea).
Note that in the case of a non-Hague adoption, if both adoptive parents (assuming they are married) do not travel to the child's home country and physically meet with the child—for example, if one spouse only picks up the child, using a power of attorney granted by the other spouse—the child will be issued an IR-4.
Children who enter the U.S. on IH-3 or IR-3 visas automatically receive citizenship once admitted to the U.S. as immigrants. Those who enter on IH-4 or IR-4 visas do not receive citizenship until their adoption is finalized in their parents' home jurisdiction.
The effective date of the Child Citizenship Act is February 27, 2001. Children who meet the requirements of the Act on that date automatically became U.S. citizens. Children who were 18 years of age or older on that date did not acquire U.S. citizenship from the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
There is a special provision for children not residing in the United States when the law takes effect; the US State Department states: "Children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically. They must apply to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) and go through the naturalization process."
- "Adoption: Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. September 2, 2009. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
- "Immigration Through Adoption: Hague Process". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. February 2, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2011.