Certain children are considered citizens of the United States, but do not hold official documentation of this status. In these cases, the child or the child’s parents must apply for a certificate of citizenship to prove that the child is indeed a U.S. citizen. The process of obtaining the certificate is relatively simple, especially when compared to the process of naturalization.

Applying for a Certificate of Citizenship

The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 states that a child may automatically obtain citizenship if each of the following stipulations are met:

  • The child is currently under the age of 18, or was under the age of 18 on or before February 27, 2001.
  • The child holds a green card and resides in the U.S.
  • The child is in the custody of at least one parent who is a citizen of the U.S.
  • The child is adopted, his or her adoption is full and final.

Applicants must simply appear at the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services office for their assigned interview after applying for the certificate in order to obtain it. If the applicant is under the age of 18, he or she must be accompanied by his or her parent who is a U.S. citizen.

This process is much different than the process of naturalization. When applying for naturalization, a person must meet an entirely separate list of requirements. He or she must take a test to assess English proficiency and must also take a test to demonstrate knowledge of American government and history. Naturalization applicants are also required to take an oath of allegiance before being granted citizenship.