HORITSU.COM :: The US Immigration Laws


How can a child born abroad live legally in the US?

US Immigration Question:

I am a US legal permanent resident. I am pregnant and want to give birth to my child in Japan. Can my child return with me to America? Would my child be a US citizen?


According to the US Immigration law, a child born during the temporary visit abroad of a mother who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States can return to the United States as a lawful permanent resident if a few requirements are met. First, the child's application for admission to the United States must be within 2 years of birth. Second, the child must be accompanied by the parent who is applying for readmission as a permanent resident upon the FIRST return of the parent to the United States after the birth of the child. Third, the parent must be found admissible, (for example, she has not abandoned her residence). Upon entry into the US it will be necessary to present the child's birth certificate and foreign passport.

As most people know, under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution,"all persons born or naturalized in the United States. . . are citizens of the United States." Thus, by virtue of being born on US soil, the child is automatically a United States citizen, notwithstanding the citizenship of either parent.

Many people, however, do not know that a child born outside the US may still be a US citizen. In your case, if the child's father is a US citizen, and he was physically present in the United States for at least 5 years before the birth of the child (two of which were after age 14), the child can request US citizenship from the US Embassy. Moreover, the 5 years of physical presence by the father does not need to be as a US citizen. Time spent in the US as a legal permanent resident counts towards the 5 years.

If the child's father is in Japan with you he should report the birth to the Embassy as soon as possible. He should bring the following original documents to the Embassy:

  1. your child's Shusei Todoke Kisai Jiko Shomei,
  2. his US passport,
  3. your marriage certificate (if applicable),
  4. proof of termination of previous marriages (certified or original final divorce or annulment decree, death certificate, etc.), and
  5. 2 passport-size photos of your child. Proof of the "5 year physical presence" requirement can be done with the following: US tax returns, school records, job verification letters, leases, affidavit from the father, and passport stamps, etc. All documents must have certified English translations.