Parents who have become U.S. citizens should file for their child’s citizenship. If you do not apply for citizenship of the child, he or she may face difficulty in obtaining college scholarships, working legally, voting, and enjoying other rights and benefits offered to U.S. citizens. That is why it’s important to apply for citizenship for children early to protect the rights of your child and the future.
Who is Eligible for Child Citizenship?
The rules governing child citizenship are contained in the Child Citizenship Act 2000. If you have acquired U.S. citizenship through naturalization, your child can also become a U.S. citizen.
Note that a child who is born after a parent becomes a natural citizen automatically gains citizenship of the U.S. The rules regarding the child citizenship that were born before the naturalization process are different.
There are two set of rules for children born before the naturalization process. One set of rules applies for those children who can become U.S. citizens immediately. The other set of rules applies for children whose application for citizenship takes time to process.
Children 18 Years or Below
The first group includes children below the age of 18. The child must be living with the parent and possess a green card at the time of parents gain U.S. citizenship. According to the U.S. immigration law, the child does not have to go through naturalization process to become citizens of the U.S. The child gains automatic citizenship when the parents are naturalized. However, note that “illegitimate” child cannot be naturalized through this process unless the child is legitimized before reaching the age of 16.
Children Above 18 Years
A second, less generous rule applies to children who are above the age of 18 during the naturalization process. The applicable laws are further subdivided for single and married children.
You have to sponsor these children to bring them to the U.S. The processing of application can take anywhere from ten years to even twenty or more years. The actual processing time depends on the number of applicants that have filed for the U.S. visa and the country where the application is made.
Note that the processing time of single persons usually is less than married children. The reason is that the immigration authorities will have to have to perform background check of the number of dependents of the married individual.