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Report of Birth

New Citizenship Law for Foreign-Born Children Adopted by U.S. Citizens

On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-395) became effective. The aim of this law, which, among other things, amends Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is to facilitate the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for both biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad and who do not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. We are pleased to note that, because of this law, U.S. citizenship will be conferred automatically upon thousands of children.

Under the previous law, internationally adopted children of a U.S. citizen did not automatically become citizens upon their admission into the United States as immigrants. Parents of these children were compelled, after having already completed the rigorous immigrant visa process, to apply to the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a Certificate of Citizenship. This process could take months, if not years.

Some very important points:

  • The new law does not change the requirements for adoption and does not change the requirements for applying for an immigrant visa ("green card") for your adopted child.
  • Applying for an immigrant visa ("green card") for your adopted child is a required step and must be done before your child can qualify for U.S. citizenship under this new law. Follow this link for information on adoption and immigrant visas in Korea. 
  • Before a U.S. Passport can be issued to your child, s/he must enter the U.S. as a legal immigrant (with an immigrant visa issued say in Seoul). Your proof of that legal entry will be either the INS stamp in the child's passport or an actual green card. This all-important entry into the U.S. must have occurred after February 27, 2001, even if it is not your child's first entry. 
  • If all the criteria are met, your child can be issued a U.S. passport either in the U.S. or by the U.S. Embassy in Seoul (we have details below on how to apply in Seoul).

Eligibility

If eligible under this new law, these children will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship, provided that the following conditions are met:

  • The child was born on or after February 28, 1983, and
  • The child has been adopted pursuant to a full, final, complete adoption or the child has a U.S. citizen parent but did not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth, and
  • At least one adopting or biological/birth parent is a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization, and 
  • The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent(s) after having been lawfully admitted as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence on or after February 27, 2001.

That entry into the U.S. must have been made before the child's 18th birthday. This new law does not apply to children 18 or older as of February 27, 2001.

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q: Does the Act apply to foreign-born children who have immigrated to the United States in order to be adopted as well as to those who have been adopted abroad?
A: Yes. Children who have immigrated to the United States in order to be adopted become citizens as soon as the adoption decree is final.

Q: Does it matter in which order the requirements are met?
A: No. The order does not matter. Citizenship is acquired automatically as soon as all of the requirements have been met.

Q: Will a child who has met the requirements of this new law need to apply for a passport from the State Department or a Certificate of Citizenship from the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS) in order to become a citizen?
A: No. As soon as the law's requirements have been met, the child acquires U.S. citizenship automatically without the need to apply for either a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship.

Q: What documents are required to obtain a passport for a child who became a U.S. citizen under the Act?
A: (1) Evidence of the child's relationship to a U.S. citizen parent (a certified copy of the foreign birth certificate for children born to an American or, if adopted, a certified copy of the final adoption decree); (2) the child's foreign passport with INS' I-551 stamp or the child's resident alien card; and (3) the parent's valid identification.

Q: How does someone prove admission into the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence?
A: Either the child's permanent resident alien card, commonly known as a "green card," or an I-551 stamp placed in the child's passport by INS.

Q: How does a child demonstrate adoption in order to obtain a passport and/or Certificate of Citizenship?
A: By presenting a certified copy of a final adoption decree.

Q: Are the Act's provisions retroactive in applicability?
A: No. Individuals who are 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001, will not be able to take advantage of the Act.

Q: What is the effective date of U.S. citizenship for children who met all the requirements of the new law prior to February 27, 2001?
A: February 27, 2001. Even though the requirements were met before the Act's effective date, citizenship is only acquired on that date.

Q: Will U.S. Embassies and Consulates issue reports of birth to children acquiring citizenship pursuant to this Act?
A: No. Reports of Birth are similar to a birth certificate stateside and are issued only to children who acquire citizenship at birth (for example, a child born in Korea to two American biological parents). Eligible adopted children will be issued U.S. passports.

Q: Which children are not eligible for the benefits of this new law?
A: Stepchildren and children born out of wedlock who have not been legitimated, are not included in the definition of "child" as used here (i.e., Title III of the INA). Unless such children are adopted or legitimated, they are eligible under this new law.

Applying for a Passport

To apply for a passport for your child under this new law, you will need the following (if applying for or renewing a passport for a child born an American Citizen, or previously naturalized, follow this link for instructions):

  • Form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport;
  • Children Age 15 and Younger: The State Department requires the consent of both parents for the issuance of passports to U.S. citizens age 15 and younger. There are several special requirements. Please carefully review the information on this web site before you apply for a passport for a child age 15 and younger. 
  • Children Age 16 and 17: Both the child and the parent must appear in person to apply for a passport. The parent should bring photo ID-- a Korean or U.S. passport, a driver's license, military ID or Korean Citizen ID card.
  • Passport Photographs: Two photos, size 2" X 2" with a light background (follow this link for a map to photo shops near the Embassy); The photo must be 2 inches by 2 inches with the face size as specified. Your browser may not display the graphic above as the correct size.
  • Proof of Adoption (with English translation, if necessary): If the child was adopted in Korea, please bring an original certified copy of the child's birth parents' Korean Family Census Register showing the child was adopted.

If the child's adoption was not registered on the birth parents' Family Census Register, please bring as many of the following documents as possible: consent letter for the abandonment of parental authority from the natural parents, a letter of witness/guarantor signed by two witness/guarantors, and the application for adoption. The application for adoption is available from the Korean ward office. In order for the child to have been adopted according to the U.S. law, he or she must have been adopted legally in the child's country of birth.

  • Child's Foreign (for example, Korean) Passport with INS Stamp I-551 or Resident Alien Card (i.e., a "Green Card". follow this link if your child does not already have a Green Card).
  • $40.00 (for children under 16) or $60.00 (for children over 16).

Other Provisions

Some foreign-born biological children of U.S. citizen parents were unable to acquire U.S. citizenship at birth because their parents did not meet the legal requirements for transmission of citizenship. While the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 does not alter these transmission requirements, it does provide for the automatic conferral of U.S. citizenship on these children once the first three criteria listed above have been met.

Another section of this new law provides that children (biological and adopted) of U.S. citizens who are born and reside abroad (that is, they do not enter the U.S. as permanent residents) and who don't become U.S. citizens at birth can apply to INS for a certificate of citizenship if the following conditions are met: 

  • At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization. 
  • The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least five years, at least two of which are were after the age of 14. If the child's U.S. citizen parent cannot meet this requirement, it is enough if one of the child's U.S. citizen grandparents can meet it. The child is under the age of eighteen.
  • The child resides abroad in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and has been lawfully admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant.
  • Children who acquire citizenship under this new provision do not acquire citizenship automatically; rather, they must/must apply to INS for a certificate of citizenship and go through the naturalization process.

 

For American Citizen Services (ACS) inquiries, please e-mail us at: seoul_acs@state.gov.

ACS may also be contacted by telephone at 02-397-4114 or by fax at 02-397-4101.

This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the internet. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links or information does not imply endorsement of contents.

The U.S. Embassy is closed on both U.S. and Korean holidays.

Updated January 30, 2008