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Forms N-600 & N-600K: How to Get U.S. Citizenship for Foreign-born Adopted Children

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January 18, 2022

Key Takeaways

Many American couples adopt internationally every year. The good news is that, as long as your foreign-born adopted child has at least one U.S. citizen parent, they qualify to become U.S. citizens too. You will need to file Form N-600 or Form N-600K to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your child. The type of form you'll have to submit will depend on where your family lives. This article will explain the different circumstances that merit your applying for either Form N-600 or N-600K.


Table of Contents

What is the difference between Form N-600 and N-600K?

Form N-600 and Form N-600K serve slightly different purposes. Filing Form N-600K allows a U.S. citizen parent to apply for their child's naturalization if their child was born outside of the United States and regularly lives outside of the United States but is eligible for citizenship. On the other hand, if the child lives in the United States, you should use Form N-600 to obtain proof of citizenship. Suppose your child lives outside of the United States, but you live in the United States. In that case, you are not eligible for Form N-600K because the child must live outside of the United States in your legal and physical custody. 

What form should I file for my adopted child to become a U.S. citizen if we live in the United States?

If you and your child live in the United States, your child will automatically acquire citizenship if they meet two qualifying requirements. First, your child must satisfy the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) definition for adopted children. An adopted child is one who: 

  • Was legally adopted under 16 years of age 
  • Has been in the legal custody of the adoptive parent or legal guardian for at least two years. Legal custody does not just mean your child resides in your physical presence. Instead, a court of law or other government institution must recognize your charge of the child.  
  • Has lived in the physical custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years 

Second, if your minor child qualifies as an adopted child under the I.N.A., they automatically become a U.S. citizen if they meet these requirements for a child's eligibility: 

  • The child has a U.S. citizen father or mother who gained citizenship by birth or naturalization. 
  • The child has not reached their 18th birthday.
  • The child lawfully entered the United States as a permanent resident and is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.

If your child meets all of these requirements, they are automatically a U.S. citizen by immigration laws. You do not need to take additional steps. However, it is a good idea to secure a Certificate of Citizenship from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as proof. To get a Certificate of Citizenship for your child, you’ll have to file Form N-600, “Application for Certificate of Citizenship,” on their behalf.

In some cases, your child will automatically get a Certificate of Citizenship, and you won’t need to file Form N-600 for them. Your child automatically receives a Certificate of Citizenship when they meet these requirements: 

  • Their adoption was finalized outside the United States 
  • The child met all citizenship requirements before their admission into the United States 
  • Both adoptive parents saw the child before or during the adoption process 

USCIS will admit your child into the United States through the IR-3 or IH-3 visa category instead, if you and your child meet these qualifications. They will receive a Certificate of Citizenship within 45 days of admission.

What form should I file for my adopted child to become a U.S. citizen if we live abroad?

If you do not live in the United States, your child can still apply for naturalization as a U.S. citizen under Section 322 of the INA or 8 U.S.C. 1433. You will file Form N-600K, “Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322,” to do so. 

Eligibility requirements

Before you file Form N-600K, make sure you and your child meet the two sets of eligibility requirements. 

First, your child must qualify as an adopted child under the I.N.A. An adopted child is one who: 

  • Was legally adopted under 16 years of age 
  • Has been in the legal custody of the adoptive parent or legal guardian for at least two years 
  • Has lived in the physical custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years 

Second, you need to satisfy the criteria under Section 322: 

  • At least one parent is a U.S. citizen. 
  • The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least five years. Two years of the five must have been after the parent turned 14. If the parents cannot satisfy this requirement, the child is still eligible for naturalization if a U.S. citizen grandparent meets this requirement.
  • The adopted child is under 18 years of age. 
  • The adopted child resides in the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent. 
  • The adopted child will be temporarily and lawfully present in the United States with a green card or visa for their naturalization interview. You and your child should be able to legally enter the United States as tourists under B-2 visas for this interview.

How to complete Form N-600K

Completing Form N-600K should not be too difficult. This form is relatively simple, but keep these points in mind: 

  • Part 1 asks you to prove the basis of your child's eligibility for a Certificate of Citizenship. "A-Number" refers to the alien registration number on your child's green card or permanent resident card, if they have one. 
  • Part 2 asks for basic information about your child. This information includes their legal name, date of birth, country of birth, mailing address, and whether there was a prior application for citizenship or a U.S. passport. If your child doesn't have a Social Security Number or a USCIS Online Account Number, you can leave these sections blank. For Question 14, you should leave your child's current immigration status blank. The USCIS officer who conducts your child's naturalization interview will fill this section out. For Question 16, you will need to show two years of legal and physical custody unless your child qualifies under I-600, "Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative." 
  • Part 3 asks for basic information about you, the parent. This information includes questions about your marital status, whether you ever had a loss of U.S. citizenship, and whether you participated in the U.S. armed forces. 
  • You do not need to complete Part 4 unless the U.S. citizen grandparent, not parent, fulfills the five-year United States residence requirement. 
  • Part 5 asks for information about the U.S. citizen parent's physical presence in the United States for the five-year requirement. 
  • You do not need to complete Part 6 unless the child has a deceased U.S. citizen parent and a legal guardian is filing this application. 
  • Part 7 asks you to provide your preference for which USCIS field office you would like to have your interview at and when. Pick a date at least 90 days after when USCIS will receive your application but make sure it is before your child's 18th birthday. 
  • Part 8 asks for your child's signature. A parent or U.S. citizen legal guardian can sign for a child younger than 14. 
  • Part 9 is only necessary if you use an interpreter to understand the form. If so, the interpreter must sign. 
  • Part 10 is only necessary if you use a lawyer or preparer to fill out the form. If so, they must sign. 
  • Part 11 is for additional information that could not fit onto the main form. 
  • Part 12 should be left blank. You and your child will complete the affidavit during the interview when the applicants swear to tell the truth. 
  • Part 13 should be left blank. Immigration officials will fill it out when deciding on your application. 

In addition, you will need to include supporting documentation. The documents required will depend on your situation. For example, if your child was born out of wedlock, you will need to provide proof of legitimation.  

After you finish the form, you can submit the USCIS forms online or by mail. If you are sending it by mail, here are some tips: 

  • Include your supporting documents in the same order as USCIS requested in the Form N-600K instructions. If your documents are in a foreign language, you should include a certified English translation. You should not provide original documents unless they are specifically requested. 
  • You need to pay the filing fee by check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” You can also pay by credit card. If you use a credit card, you will also need to include Form G-1450. Make sure to check with USCIS that the filing fees haven't changed before paying. You can also check to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver
  • You should send the entire application package to the USCIS lockbox indicated on their website. Double-check that the address you are writing is the current one displayed on the website. 

Conclusion

Naturalizing your child as a U.S. citizen can be complicated, but working with a good immigration attorney can make it easier. If you can't afford the attorney fees and don't want to handle your naturalization case alone, we may be able to help. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!

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