Project Citizenship seeks to increase the naturalization rate in Massachusetts and beyond. It is a nonprofit agency that provides free, high quality legal services to permanent residents to help them become U.S citizens. This article is republished with permission, from projectcitizenship.org/citizenship-for-children/.
When I become a U.S. citizen, will my child also become a U.S. citizen?
Maybe. There are a few requirements for your child to become a U.S. citizen, your child must:
1. Be under 18 years old when you become a citizen;
2. Be a legal permanent resident (have a green card);
3. Not be married; and
4. Live in the U.S. with you in your legal and physical custody.
When your child fulfills all of these requirements, he/she will automatically become a citizen. These requirements may happen in any order, as long as everything happens before your child turns 18 years old. These cases can be complicated and each case is different.
I became a citizen after my child was 18 years old. Did he/she become a citizen when I did?
No. For your child to automatically become a citizen when you did, your naturalization would have had to occur before his/her 18th birthday. If your child has had a green card for at least 5 years and is over 18, he/she may be eligible to apply for naturalization on his/her own by completing the N-400 application.
Can my stepchild become a citizen when I become a citizen?
No. Stepchildren cannot derive citizenship from their stepparents. Currently, only biological children and some adopted children become U.S. citizens when a parent naturalizes.
How can I get proof of my child’s citizenship?
If your child became a citizen when you naturalized, you have two options. You may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship for your child and/or you may apply for a U.S. passport for your child.
What is a Certificate of Citizenship? How do I apply for one?
The Certificate of Citizenship is a certificate similar to your naturalization certificate that proves your child is a citizen of the United States. You may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by filling out a Form N-600. In addition to the application, you will need to submit additional supporting documents, which may include:
How much does the Certificate of Citizenship cost?
The application fee for the Certificate of Citizenship is $1,170. However, if you receive public benefits, your household income is below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or you have some other financial hardship, you may be eligible for a fee waiver.
What are the benefits of a Certificate of Citizenship?
The Certificate of Citizenship is documentary proof of your child’s citizenship. It is also U.S. government-issued photo identification. Unlike a U.S. passport, a certificate of citizenship never expires.
What are the benefits of getting a U.S. passport?
A passport can be used to travel abroad and can also be used to prove your child’s U.S. citizenship. However, a passport must be renewed every 5 years (while the child is under 16), and then every 10 years once the child is an adult.
How do I apply for a U.S. passport for my child?
To apply for a passport for your child, you must fill out and submit Form DS-11 with all necessary documentation. You can find this application online or at a local U.S. Post Office. If you have a Certificate of Citizenship, you will need to include a copy of it with the passport application. If you do not have a Certificate of Citizenship, you will need to submit the following documents with the passport application:
To find out more about Project Citizenship, go to projectcitizenship.org/.
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