In most cases, the only clear path to U.S. citizenship as an immigrant is to go through the process of filing an N-400, Application for Naturalization. In order to be eligible for U.S. citizenship, most immigrants need to either have been residing continuously in the United States for the last five years as a green card holder, or the last three years if they received a green card via marriage to a U.S. citizen. In separate cases of U.S. military service, options are available for naturalization.
However, other than being born in the United States or serving in the U.S. military, there is one alternate path to becoming a U.S. citizen, and this is the case for children who are under the age of 18 and are residing outside of the country while their U.S. citizen parent files on their behalf.
The form that allows parents to certify their child’s U.S. citizenship is called the N-600K, and it can be accessed on the USCIS website: https://www.uscis.gov/n-600. In addition, due to improvements of the USCIS site this year, this form can also be filed online which will reduce the amount of processing time.
In terms of eligibility, there are requirements to follow for parents who wish to certify their child’s U.S. citizenship. These generally include the following conditions:
1. The child must be under 18 years old during the time of application.
2. The parents who are interested in filing must also satisfy the continuous presence requirement of living in the United States for the immediate five years prior to submitting an application.
3. Have at least one U.S. citizen parent, either by birth or naturalization.
In addition, another critical part of this adjudication process is that the child who is residing in another country has to come to the United States in order to complete the application. There will be an interview (similar to a green card interview), where both the U.S. citizen parent and their child will need to be in attendance and answer basic questions regarding the eligibility criteria above.
If everything is approved, the USCIS will issue your child a Certificate of Citizenship. Depending on the age of the child, they will either have to take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States (if they are aged 14 and up). Note that your child will not have to pass an English/Civics test, which is a requirement for N-400 applicants. The filing fee for the N-600K is $1,170.