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Is a US citizen's child born abroad an American?

Ask the US Embasssy

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

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Question: When a American citizen has a child overseas, is the child automatically a US citizen, too? How is this documented?

Answer: Thanks for raising this important question. As many readers are likely aware, anyone born in the United States acquires US citizenship automatically…but what if a US citizen has a child born overseas? The requirements get a little more complicated, but we're happy to explain and hopefully make this clear.

The US Embassy in Kingston issues a document called a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) to any child born in Jamaica (or the Cayman Islands) whose US citizen parent transmitted his or her citizenship to the child at birth. So how is citizenship transmitted?

The US citizen parent must provide: (1) sufficient proof of a biological relationship to the child; and (2) evidence that the US citizen parent was physically present in the United States for a certain period of time before the child was born.

First of all, proving the biological relationship can be relatively straightforward. All applicants should at least come prepared with the child's local birth certificate, plus other evidence, which could include hospital records from before and after the child was born, photographs, and evidence that the parents were in the same place around the time of conception.

The consular officer will determine at the time of the interview whether additional information is required. In some cases, the consular officer may suggest that DNA should support the biological relationship…but you should NOT seek a DNA test before your interview. To be accepted for a citizenship application, DNA testing must be performed through the Embassy and meet specific technical requirements.

Second, US immigration law requires that a US citizen parent must have been physically present in the United States prior to the child's birth. The amount of the physical presence requirement varies depending on when the child was born, whether the parents were married at the time of the child's birth, and whether it is the mother or the father who is transmitting citizenship.

Usually, the US citizen parent must have been present in the United States for at least five years total, with two of those years after the age of 14. The parent records this physical presence on the application form by indicating the first date they entered the United States (eg date of their US birth or their first US visit), then the date they exited the United States, followed by the date of their second entry and exit, then third, and so on. Documents that may support the parent's claimed physical presence most commonly include school records, pay slips, lease agreements, car payments, and passport stamps, to name just a few. The consular officer will review and consider any and all documentation an applicant submits to attest to their time in the United States.

If you believe you and your child meet the requirements for a CRBA, you should contact the Embassy at KingstonACS@state.gov or KingstonCRBA@state.gov to submit an application, which costs US$100. The application for the child's first passport may be submitted at the same time and costs US$115 for children under 16.

More information on the U.S. Embassy's website here: https://jm.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/child-family-matters/birth/, and the complete information on physical presence requirements is at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Acquisition-US-Citizenship-Child-Born-Abroad.html.

The more prepared you are prior to your interview, the faster the process will be.

For more information about visas and American Citizen Services, please visit our website, https://jm.usembassy.gov/ and the website of our authorised service provider at www.usvisa-info.com. Keep on top of Embassy news on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pages/US-Embassy-Jamaica and by following @USEmbassyJA on Twitter. We also answer general visa questions on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

For safety and security reasons, the US Embassy asks that all individuals arrive at the Embassy no more than 15 minutes before their designated appointment time.


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