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“Do I need to readopt my child before applying for her citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act?”

A common question we hear is, “Do I have to readopt my internationally adopted child in the U.S. in order for them to get citizenship?” The answer is that it depends on what type of Visa your child received when coming to the United States. IH visas are for children coming from Hague Convention countries and IR Visas are for children coming from non-convention countries. The crucial distinction, though, is the number. For IR-3 and IH-3 Visas, a child automatically acquires citizenship upon admission to the U.S., provided they are under eighteen. They should be mailed their Certificate of Citizenship within 45 days.  If they do not receive the C o C within 45 days, parents should contact USCIS at 800-375-5283.

Children arriving with an IR-4 or IH-4 Visa do not acquire automatic citizenship upon entry but are permanent residents until they apply for proof of their U.S. citizenship. Their citizenship is automatic on the date of their “full and final adoption decree in the U.S.,” but they must still apply for a Certificate of Citizenship.  The process of applying for a Certificate of Citizenship is very simple, but most often does require proof of the child’s readoption in the United States. The readoption must be completed in your state of residence. In California, the requirements for an international adoption vary based on whether or not the child’s adoption was finalized in their birth country before entry to America.   After mailing all of your documentation and the required fee, there is about a four month wait period before the swearing-in ceremony.  Currently, the cost of filing the required N-600 form is $1,170.00.

It is vital that the readoption of a child with an IR-4 or IH-4 Visa be completed prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday. Families often don’t recognize the need for the Certificate of Citizenship until their child is a teen and begins applying for things like college financial aid and scholarships, a driver’s license, or a passport.  It’s very common for parents to panic when their child is approaching 18 and they are suddenly realizing that their child’s citizenship status was not automatic.  It’s possible to expedite the readoption process in these cases and Adoption Law Group is ready to help.  For cases in which the child is now over 18, an adult adoption may be a possibility, but consultation with an immigration attorney, in addition to an adoption attorney, is highly recommended.