Child Citizenship Act Of 2000

In October 2000, President Clinton signed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) into law. The act was a modification of section 320 of the United States Immigration and Nationality law. Consequently, the act makes it easier for adopted or foreign-born children of US citizens to become citizens themselves after satisfying certain requirements before age 18. The CCA came into full effect on the 27th of February 2001. Seattle immigration lawyer Brandon Gillin discusses the CCA in more detail below.

Effects of the Child Citizenship Act 2000

The main effect of the Child Citizenship Act 2000 is on foreign children adopted by American parents. This act granted automatic citizenship to these children when they entered the US with their parents. This law also extends to children with at least one American parent born in a foreign country. 

Based on the CCA, a child adopted from a foreign country automatically becomes a citizen of the United States upon setting foot on US soil. However, such a child must be below 18 years of age at the time and must have completed all the necessary adoption and immigration procedures. 

Eligibility Requirements 

To be eligible under this act, the child in question must meet the definition of a minor for naturalization purposes according to US immigration law. In addition to this, some of the other requirements include: 

  • One or both of the child’s biological or adopted parents must be US citizens either by birth or by Naturalization 
  • The child must be below 18 years 
  • Must be in the full physical and legal custody of his/her American parent 
  • Must have fulfilled all immigration laws to become a lawful permanent resident 
  • The child must be fully adopted by law

Exceptions to the Child Citizenship Act 

There are some exceptions to the CCA and certain conditions under which this act may not apply to a child. Some of these exceptions include 

  • If the adopted child does not immigrate to the United States with his/her American parents after adoption, the law does not apply 
  • The law does not apply to a child who arrives in the US on a tourist, visitor, or student visa. In this case, the law does not confer citizenship on the child 
  • The CCA does not work retroactively back to the time of the child’s birth. This means even though the child becomes a citizen based on the CCA, he/she cannot be considered a natural-born American. 
  • The CCA does not grant citizenship to children arriving in the United States after their 18th birthday. 
  • The law will only apply to the stepchild of an American parent. If the child has been legally adopted by the parent. 

The Child Citizenship Act came into effect in February 2001 and applies to children born after 27 February 1983. Children born abroad before this date cannot become US citizens under this act. 

How does the CCA work?

If a child is being adopted by a US parent or was born abroad to parents with US citizenship, the parent must file the necessary immigration papers for this minor child before they return to the United States. The requirements for this sort of request are similar to the immediate relative visa application.

To start the application, the applying parent must petition as a sponsor. The parent must file Form I-130 to apply as a sponsor while filing their visa application. They may also be required to file affidavit support and submit the usual documents needed to support their application such as photos, medical certificates, vaccination records, and so on. 

In addition to these, the parents may also be asked to provide separate evidence that establishes the fact that the US citizen parents have physical and legal custody of the child and he/she will reside with them in the US. 

The application process is similar to what needs to be done to file for a child’s green card. However, in this case, instead of getting a green card on arrival, the child automatically becomes a US citizen under the CCA on arrival, the child is eligible to apply for a US certificate of citizenship and a US passport. 

What Are the Other Provisions of the Child Citizenship Act?

Aside from the provisions of the act that applies to adopted children returning to the United States with their parents, the CCA also provides for biological or adopted children of American citizens who are residing abroad instead of returning to the US. In such a case, the child does not automatically become an American citizen by birth, but may still be able to become a citizen by applying to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS). Such a child will still be able to get a certificate of citizenship if: 

  • The child is below the age of eighteen.
  • Both or at least one of the parents are American citizens by birth or naturalization.
  • The American parents have spent a total of at least five years residing physically in the United States. Two out of these five years must be after they turned 14. In situations where the child’s parents don’t meet the physical presence requirement, the child’s grandparents may apply if they’re American citizens and they meet the time requirement 
  • The child must be in the legal and physical custody of the American parent 
  • The child has fulfilled all the requirements to be legally admitted into the United States as a nonimmigrant.

Children who fulfill these requirements do not become citizens automatically. Instead, they must apply to the BCIS in the Department of Homeland Security in order to become naturalized citizens of the United States. 


The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 resolves potential cases of future hardship that may occur due to parents failing to naturalize their adopted children. Going by the provisions of this act, the child can acquire citizenship or get a green card quite easily. You can seek the legal advice of an immigration lawyer for further clarification of the provision of this act.

Request a Consultation about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 From a Seattle Immigration Lawyer

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Attorney Brandon Gillin

Tel. (425) 947-1130

Resources on the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

We provide the following resources for the prospective employment-based permanent residence applicant.

I’ve always known Mr. Gillin to be nothing less than intelligent, honest, and diligent in his craft. I refer all of my clients in need of immigration services to him with confidence, and I have heard nothing but good things. You’re in good hands here.

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