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Congress Makes Citizenship Automatic
by Gayle Mills
 
 
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective on February 27, 2001. It permits certain foreign-born children - including adopted children - to acquire citizenship automatically if they meet certain requirements. This means that citizenship can now be acquired without the need to apply for it. This law is retroactive to all children who were eligible to become citizens but for whom no application had yet been processed. Any child who is currently under the age of 18 and was legally adopted under INS law in the United States or the child`s country of birth has acquired citizenship automatically.
 
For children who acquire citizenship automatically, the final adoption decree is now considered proof of citizenship. Some parents, such as those planning to travel outside of the U.S., may want additional proof. They may apply for a U.S. passport ($40, valid for 5 years) or for a Certificate of Citizenship (INS Form N-643, $125) on behalf of their child. The application form and further information on the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 can be obtained by visiting the Immigration and Naturalization Service web site at: http://www.ins.gov. Adoption Horizons can provide an N-643 upon request. For a U.S. passport application and information on applying on behalf of an adopted child, see: http://www.travel.state.gov/passport_services.html.
 
Whether or not you choose to apply for additional proof of citizenship, everyone should contact their local office of the Social Security Administration (SSA) if your adopted child received his or her Social Security card prior to becoming a citizen. Prior to the new law, foreign-born children who had not yet become citizens were categorized by SSA as legal aliens. By contacting SSA, this designation will be deleted and a new Social Security card will be issued that retains the same SS number but reflects your child`s status as a citizen. For additional information or the location of the nearest SSA office, visit their web site at: www.ssa.gov or call 1-800-772-1213.
 
If you still need assistance, you may contact me at Senator Specter`s Harrisburg Office at 717-782-3951 or by email at:  Gayle mills@specter.senate.gov.
 
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