What if you were born in another nation and you have a claim to U.S. citizenship, but you can’t prove it? If you were born outside the US and even just one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you may still have a claim to citizenship, but you may have some difficulty proving that claim. Here’s how an immigration law firm in Las Vegas can help.
WHAT’S IT TAKE FOR SOME PEOPLE TO PROVE THAT THEY’RE CITIZENS?
Proving that you are a citizen of the United States should be easy, but for many people, it’s not. In fact, some people may need a lawyer’s help to prove their claim to U.S. citizenship.
Why is the ability to prove your citizenship so important? There are a number of instances where you may need to prove that you are a citizen of the United States. For example, you must prove that you’re a citizen if you apply for a passport or if you apply for a federal government job.
For most of us in the U.S., our birth certificates prove our citizenship. If you became a citizen through naturalization after your time as a lawful permanent resident (a “green card holder”), you were given a naturalization certificate. That certificate is the proof of your U.S. citizenship.
WAS YOUR BIRTH REGISTERED?
If you were born outside of the United States and you claim U.S.
citizenship from birth because at least one of your parents was already a
citizen when you were born, your parent or a guardian may have registered the
birth with the State Department or with a U.S. embassy or consulate.
The parent or guardian at that time should have been given one of these documents that will prove you are a citizen of the United States:
- an FS-545 Certification of Birth document provided by the State Department until November 1, 1990
- a DS-1350 Certification of Report of Birth document provided by the State Department until December 31, 2010
- an FS-240 Report of a Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen document now provided by U.S. consulates and embassies
Although the State Department no longer provides parents or guardians with DS-1350 or FS-545 birth certificates, those documents are still considered proof of citizenship and may be used to apply for a U.S. passport or a federal government job.
WHAT IF NO ONE REGISTERED YOUR BIRTH?
If you’re under 18 and living outside of the U.S., and if a U.S. citizen/guardian or citizen/parent did not register your birth in another nation, have your guardian or parent file an “Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad” (Form DS-2029) with the closest U.S. consulate or embassy.
If you satisfy the requirements, you’ll receive an FS-240 certificate that proves your U.S. citizenship.
WHO SHOULD FILE FORM N-600K – AND WHEN?
However, if you had no citizenship claim at the time of your birth because neither parent had yet fulfilled the physical presence requirement for naturalization, and if you’re under 18, ask your parent instead to file a Form N-600K (Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate).
Usually, applicants for naturalization through Form N-600K must be physically present in the U.S. for thirty months before they may apply for naturalization. If approved, Form N-600K lets a parent fulfill the physical presence requirement after the child has been born.
Form N-600K is filed by a U.S. citizen/parent to obtain citizenship for a child who has resided outside of the United States. If your parent submits a Form N-600K on your behalf, and if it is approved, the naturalization procedure must conclude prior to your 18th birthday.
WHEN IS A CHILD BORN OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. ELIGIBLE FOR CITIZENSHIP?
To establish eligibility for citizenship for a child who was born and who resides outside of the U.S., that child must meet these requirements:
1. At least one parent is a U.S. citizen by naturalization or birth.
- The citizen-parent has been physically present in the U.S. for five or more years, and two or more of those years were after the citizen-parent had reached age 14.
- If a parent cannot meet the physical presence requirement, that parent’s citizen/parent (the child’s grandparent) can meet the requirement.
- The child is below the age of 18.
- The child currently resides in another country in the custody of the U.S. parent/citizen.
- Temporarily, the child is now in the U.S. with a lawful status.
If it’s not clear whether your child qualifies for U.S. citizenship, you’ll need the advice of a good immigration lawyer.
WHAT IF YOU ARE OVER AGE 18?
For persons who are age 18 and older, if you need to prove your citizenship and you have none of the documents listed above, you must submit a Form N-600 (Application for Certificate of Citizenship) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If approved, you will receive a Certificate of Citizenship.
WHAT IF YOU ARE ADOPTING A CHILD FROM ANOTHER NATION?
If you are a citizen who adopts a child who was born in another country, your child should qualify for citizenship, but there are very specific steps that need to be completed for the child to obtain the citizenship through adoption. If you live with your child in the U.S., citizenship can automatically be acquired for your child if these conditions are met:
- The child is an “adopted child” as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- Your own situation meets the requirements for adopting and bringing a child to the U.S.
- You had properly completed international adoption or child is not from the Hauge convention country, and you had full legal and physical custody of the child
How is the phrase “adopted child” defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act? An “adopted child” was adopted before his or her 16th birthday and has resided in the legal and physical custody of the adoptive parents for at least two years.
If you live abroad with your adopted child, and you do not maintain a residence in the United States, you will have to apply for naturalization for the child. You should have an immigration lawyer’s help.
HOW CAN A U.S. IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM HELP YOU?
In fact, you should consult with an experienced Las Vegas immigration
attorney before you complete any of the forms mentioned here or file any
requests with the immigration authorities. Everyone’s circumstances are
different, so you should have personalized immigration advice.
Your attorney will help you complete any necessary immigration forms to ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings delay the processing of your request. Your immigration attorney can also advocate on your behalf if any dispute emerges regarding any immigration matter.
If your immigration request is rejected or denied, your immigration attorney can appeal that decision or recommend an alternative way to move forward.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER?
Whether you are trying to become a citizen of the United States or prove that you already are, you are going to need the advice, insights, and services of an experienced U.S. immigration lawyer.
Immigration processes take time and a bit of patience, so you should contact a good immigration attorney – and get started – right now.