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Ladymetis Jan 15th 2022 9:29 am

Citizenship Path for an Adopted Child?
My husband and I are considering adopting a child, and are currently researching and discussing whether this would be a good decision for our family, and of course for any child potentially placed with us as well.
We have had a rather rocky immigration journey thus far, although solely rocky in complexity, as we've thankfully been unusually successful, but we want to make sure we fully understand the implications before we impact another person's life.

I am a U.S. citizen by birth, and a British citizen by descent. My husband is a U.S. citizen by birth, and he and our 3 children currently hold EEA Biometric Family Residence Cards obtained under EU legislation established following the Surinder Singh case, as we previously lived and worked in Ireland (before coming back to the U.K. earlier than we expected due to a family medical emergency). We applied for EU Pre-Settled Status on paper applications for my husband and children in early 2021, and it has been accepted formally but it has not yet been approved - we have been informed through various contacts with representatives in government and in Home Office that this extended timeline is standard for paper applications and Surinder Singh applications, and that our application is progressing. Our personal and travel documents were recently returned to us, so we expect to have our results in the near future. My children will have been resident here for 3 years in a few months, and eligible for citizenship based on their lawful residency and my citizenship by decent, so we will follow the process to apply for British Citizenship for them at that time. My husband will need another 2 years residence here before he can apply for EU-Settled Status, IDLR, and eventually British citizenship.

My husband's family still reside in the U.S. and his mother's health is slowly deteriorating with age, and he is the only one of his siblings likely to care for her if she needed it, so while we have no planned intention of returning to America beyond the occasional holiday, we have not ruled out the possibility of moving back to the States should a family emergency or caring need necessitate it.

Looking at the reference charts, if we were to adopt a British child here in the U.K., once the adoption is formalised in the U.K. and the child is resident with us in the U.K., am I correct in thinking that we would just need to apply for their U.S. Passport from here as we would now be their parents and they would be entitled to U.S. citizenship by "descent?" Or, would they need to be resident in the U.S. for that to happen? What would we hypothetically need to do to ensure U.S. citizenship for them, and what are the potential delays and/or costs associated (beyond the application fees for the passport itself)? I should mention that we would not be attempting an international adoption to adopt a child from another country, but we would not reject the chance to adopt a child based on their birthplace or heritage if presented with a foreign-born child by our local agency - I don't know the likelihood of that scenario, but I suppose it could be relevant if there is a difference in advice if a child could potentially be coming into this as a dual citizen from another country already.

I'm also aware that as we are speaking hypothetically about something that could be months or years away from fruition that the legislation could change between now and any such time as a child is placed with us and/or we returned to the U.S. and could potentially render any advice given here as null and void.

Thank you in advance if you read all of this, and great appreciation is given to anyone with the knowledge to answer my questions! This forum has been absolutely invaluable to us over the last 4 years, and we recognise the significant time and personal investment that many of you put forward to help us all!

tom169 Jan 15th 2022 10:36 am

Re: Citizenship Path for an Adopted Child?
Consult with an immigration attorney with some experience in this before finalizing the adoption. From memory there are different visas and timelines depending on the country and if the adoption has been finalized or not.

newacct Jan 16th 2022 5:31 am

Re: Citizenship Path for an Adopted Child?
The rules for acquisition of US citizenship at birth for a child born abroad do not apply to your adopted child since you were not their parent at birth. The easiest path for your adopted child to get US citizenship after adoption depends on whether you guys plan on moving to the US:
1) If you guys are moving to the US, you would petition the child to immigrate (i.e. get a green card) as a child of a US citizen by filing I-130, and they would go through Consular Processing to get an immigrant visa. The unmarried under-21 child of a US citizen is in the Immediate Relative category with no wait for visa numbers, though the process can take a year or more. The moment they enter the US with their immigrant visa, they immediately become a US permanent resident (green card holder), and also immediately become a US citizen under INA 320 as a permanent resident under 18 living in the US in the custody of a US citizen parent. This citizenship is automatic and does not need to be applied for. You can immediately apply for their US passport.
2) If you guys are not moving to the US, you can have them naturalized under the INA 322 naturalization process. To qualify for this, either you (the child's US citizen parent) or your parent (the child's US citizen grandparent) must have been physically present in the US for 5 years, including 2 years after turning 14. You would file N-600K, and when asked to come to the US for the interview and oath, your child would enter the US on visitor status (e.g. B2 visa) to attend the interview and oath (you would show no immigrant intent by showing that you guys do not intend to move to the US). The child becomes a US citizen after taking the oath.

Note that in both cases, in order for an adopted child to qualify as your child for US immigration and nationality purposes, there are certain conditions that need to be met. I believe that, unless the child is adopted as an "orphan" or through the Hague convention, the child would need to live in your legal and physical custody for 2 years before it counts. I believe it would also need to be adopted by both parents to count. Only after the child qualifies as your child for US immigration and nationality purposes can you petition then to immigrate or apply for them to naturalize.

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