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FAQ / LIGHTHOUSE ARTICLES:

(#142-01/01/01)

New Law to Permit Foreign Born Children
to Acquire Automatic Citizenship


On October 30, 2000, President Clinton signed into law to permit foreign-born children -including adopted children -to acquire citizenship automatically if they meet certain requirements. It becomes effective on February 27, 2001.

Q. Which children automatically become citizens under the new law?

A. Beginning February 27, 2001, certain foreign-born children-including adopted children-currently residing permanently in the United States will acquire citizenship automatically. To be eligible, a child must meet the definition of "child" for naturalization purposes under US Immigration law and must also meet the following requirements:

1. The child has at least one United States citizen parent (by birth or naturalization);

2. The child is under 18 years of age;

3. The child is currently residing permanently in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the United States citizen parent;

4. The child is a lawful permanent resident;

5. An adopted child meets the requirements applicable to adopted children under US Immigration law.

Acquiring citizenship automatically means citizenship acquired by law without the need to apply for citizenship. A child who is currently under the age of 18 and has already met all of the above requirements will acquire citizenship automatically on February 27, 2001. Otherwise, a child will acquire citizenship automatically on the date the child meets all of the above requirements.

Q. Is the law retroactive? Is automatic citizenship provided for those who are 18 years of age or older?

A. No. The new law is not retroactive. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001, do not qualify for citizenship under Public Law 106-395, even if they meet all other criteria. If they choose to become US citizens, they must apply for naturalization and meet eligibility requirements that currently exist for adult lawful permanent residents.

Q. Will eligible children automatically receive proof of citizenship-such as a US Passport?

A. No. Proof of citizenship will not be automatically issued to eligible children. However, if proof of citizenship is desired, beginning February 27, 2001, parents of children who meet the conditions of the new law may apply for a passport for their child with the Department of State.

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