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Requirements For Transmitting U.S. Citizenship to a Child Born Outside The United States
 
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American Citizens Services

Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. The following is a brief description of the various circumstances under which a child born abroad acquires American citizenship. Please note that at least one parent must be a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth.

  • A child born outside of the United States, or its outlying possessions, to two married U.S. citizen parents is entitled to U.S. citizenship provided that one of the parents has been resident in the United States, or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of the child. (No specific period of time is required.)
  • If the child was born on, or after, November 14, 1986 and the parents were married at the time, the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present within the borders of the U.S., or its outlying possessions, for a total of five years prior to the birth of the child (not necessarily consecutive years). Two of those five years must have occurred after the U.S. citizen parent turned 14.
  • If the child was born on, or after, November 14, 1986 to an unwed U.S. citizen father, the father must meet the same requirements as a married U.S. citizen parent (five years of physical presences, two years after age 14), and must sign the paternity affidavit with the local Swedish authorities. The father must be listed on the Swedish birth certificate (Personbevis). The father will also be required to execute an Affidavit of Physical Presence, Parentage and Support (PDF 165 KB) before a U.S. Consular Officer in which he agrees to provide support for the child through his/her 18th birthday. Do not sign this Affidavit until requested to do so by the Consular Officer at the Embassy.
  • If the child was born on, or after December 24, 1952 to an unwed U.S. citizen mother, the mother must have been physically present within the borders of the U.S., or its outlying possessions, for one continuous year prior to the child's birth, with no interruptions allowed.
  • If the child was born prior to November 14, 1986 the U.S. citizen parent must have been physically present within the borders of the U.S., or its outlying possessions, for a total of ten years prior to the birth of the child (not necessarily consecutive years). Five of those ten years must be after the U.S. citizen parent turned age 14. Since it is not possible to report the birth of child over the age of 18, please see information regarding First Time Applicant for a U.S. passport in the menu to the left for information regarding persons born prior to November 14, 1986.

Yes, I do meet the requirements for transmission of citizenship to my child. What’s next?

If you, after reviewing the above instructions carefully, believe your child has a claim to U.S. citizenship, it will be necessary for the U.S. citizen parent to execute an application for a "Consular Report of Birth Abroad" before a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. This Report is official evidence of U.S. citizenship and can only be issued to a person under the age of 18 who was born abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) and acquired citizenship at birth. At the time you report the birth of your child, it is advised to submit an application for the child's U.S. passport and for a social security number.

More information and application forms.

What if I do not meet the requirements for transmission of citizenship to my child?

It may be possible for your child to apply for naturalization or an immigrant visa. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 and Immigrant Visas.

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