Citizenship for Adopted Children

All adopted children entering the U.S. with visa categories IR-3/IH-3, IR-4/IH-4, and IR-2 are admitted as permanent resident aliens.  Depending on the child’s visa classification, USCIS will mail either a permanent resident card (green card) or a Certificate of Citizenship.


A child who immigrates to the U.S. as the adopted child of a U.S. citizen automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if the adoption is full and final before the child’s 18th birthday, if the child is admitted as a permanent resident before his or her 18th birthday, and if the child is residing in the U.S. in the citizen parent’s legal and physical custody.


Tips for adoptive U.S. citizen parents:

  • Your child must actually be residing in the U.S. after entering with an immigrant visa in order to receive a Certificate of Citizenship.
  • If you are a U.S. government employee or member of the armed forces who is temporarily stationed abroad, your child may be considered to be residing in the U.S. for purposes of acquiring citizenship.
  • A visit to the U.S. before returning overseas does not count as residence.
  • Intent to permanently reside in the U.S. is not enough to establish residence in the U.S. either during or between visits.
  • If your child does not actually reside in the U.S., USCIS will mail the child a permanent resident card (green card) rather than a Certificate of Citizenship.
  • Your child must actually reside with a petitioning parent in the United States.
  • If your child resides in the U.S., but the original adoption was disrupted before the child got citizenship, you must have two years legal custody of your child and have also physically resided with your child for two years before you may file an application for Certificate of Citizenship.


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