Citizenship Services

Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. The following is a brief description of the various circumstances under which a child born abroad acquires American citizenship.

Renunciation is the most unequivocal way in which a person can manifest an intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship.  Please consider the effects of renouncing U.S. citizenship, described below, before taking this serious and irrevocable action.

Child born in wedlock to two U.S. citizens: 

A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to citizenship, provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required.)

Birth abroad to one citizen and one alien parent in wedlock

A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided that the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth.

  • For births on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years of physical presence in the U.S., two after the age of fourteen, is required.
  • For births between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years of physical presence in the U.S., five after the age of fourteen is for a parent to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother:

A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(c) INA if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father: 

A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and a foreign national mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(a) INA provided that: the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence in the U.S., two after the age of fourteen is required. For births between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years physical presence in the U.S., five after the age of fourteen, is required for a parent to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child. In addition the applicant must document the following:

* A blood relationship between the applicant and the father established by clear and convincing evidence;

* The father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant’s birth;

* The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and

*  While the claimant is under the age of 18 years:

  • Applicant is legitimated under the law of their country of residence or domicile,
  • Father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing and under oath, or
  • The paternity of the applicant is established by the adjudication of a court

I believe that my child has claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?

If you believe that your child has a claim to U.S. Citizenship, it will be necessary for the parents to appear in person at the Embassy in order to execute an application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) before a consular officer. At that time, a passport application may also be executed.  Please familiarize yourself with all requirements and appointment procedures prior to contacting the American Citizen Services (ACS) for an appointment.

Children with no claim to U.S. citizenship
What if I do not meet the requirements for transmission of citizenship to my child?

If you believe that your child does not have a claim to U.S. Citizenship, it may be possible for your child to apply for naturalization or an immigrant visa.  Please contact the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS for further information or check the Department of State website: http://www.travel.state.gov/ for Child Citizenship Act of 2000 laws and regulations.

I am over the age of 18 and my birth has not been reported and I believe I have a claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?

If you believe that you have a claim to U.S. Citizenship please contact the American Citizen Services at acsdoha@state.gov with a detailed description of your claim.

To renounce U.S. citizenship, you must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:

* appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer,

* in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and

* sign an oath of renunciation

* pay a $2350.00 fee

Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States because of the provisions of section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect.  In fact, U.S. courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds, as discussed below.

Renouncing all rights and privileges

A person who wants to renounce U.S. citizenship cannot decide to retain some of the privileges of citizenship, as this would be logically inconsistent with the concept of renunciation. A person who attempts to retain some rights lacks a full understanding of renouncing citizenship and/or lacks the necessary intent to renounce citizenship. The Department of State will not approve a loss of citizenship in such instances.

Dual nationality / statelessness

If you renounce your U.S. citizenship and do not already possess a foreign nationality, you may be rendered stateless and, thus, lack the protection of any government. You may also have difficulty traveling as you may not be entitled to a passport from any country. Even if you are not stateless, you would still be required to obtain a visa to travel to the United States, or show that you are eligible for admission pursuant to the terms of the Visa Waiver Program (VWPP). You could be barred from entering the United States if found ineligible for a visa or the VWPP, under certain circumstances. Nonetheless, renunciation of U.S. citizenship may not prevent a foreign country from deporting an individual back to the United States, in some non-citizen status.

Tax & military obligations / no escape from prosecution

Also, renouncing your U.S. citizenship may have no effect whatsoever on your U.S. tax or military service obligations. (Contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information). In addition, the act of renouncing U.S. citizenship will not allow you to avoid possible prosecution for crimes which you may have committed in the United States, or escape the repayment of financial obligations previously incurred in the United States or incurred as United States citizens abroad.

Renunciation for minor children

Parents cannot renounce U.S. citizenship on behalf of their minor children. Before an oath of renunciation will be administered under Section 349(a) (5) of the INA, a person under the age of eighteen must convince a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, is not subject to duress or undue influence, and is voluntarily seeking to renounce his/her U.S. citizenship.

Irrevocability of renunciation

Finally, renouncing U.S. citizenship is irrevocable and cannot be canceled or set aside without successful administrative or judicial appeal. An applicant who renounced his or her U.S. citizenship before the age of eighteen can have that citizenship reinstated if he or she makes that desire known to the Department of State within six months after attaining the age of eighteen.