Children of a U.S. Citizen Born Outside the U.S.


When a U.S. citizen and foreign national have a child overseas, you must report their birth to the consulate or embassy nearest to you if you wish to establish US citizenship and obtain a US passport for the child. This must be done in the country of birth.

Tip: One issue which often comes up at this time is: “can the child have joint citizenship or must he or she give up citizenship in the country of birth in order to become a US citizen.” Generally, the US will allow joint citizenship if the other country does, so the question is does the country of birth allow it. The best course of action here is to first check with the authorities of the foreign country (consult their website, if possible) first. If joint citizenship is allowed by the foreign country of birth, then check further with the website of the US Department of State to make sure the foreign country of birth is not one of the few countries with which the US does not permit joint citizenship to be established. If no problems are noted after this bit of research, then the child will have retained his or her citizenship in their country of birth and will have joint citizenship with the US upon issuance of the Certificate of US Citizenship; no further application is required.

Tip: Why do you want a to obtain a CRBA (Consular Report of Birth Abroad). Answer: this is the best record and validation of the child’s status as a US citizen at the time of birth.

Tip: The CRBA does not serve other purposes such as for identification, establishing legal parentage, etc., nor does it entitle a child to enter the US as a USC or otherwise; you will need to complete the process as noted below:

What you are trying to obtain from a consulate or embassy is a CERTIFICATE OF US CITIZENSHIP and a US PASSPORT for the child.

With that goal in mind follow along for an overview of how to do it and some tips to avoid problems.

It is helpful to note that every consulate or embassy is different and may have varying procedures for establishing a child’s citizenship and issuing a CRBA as noted above. Your best course of action is to contact nearest US consulate or embassy in the country of the child’s birth by consulting their website. You can also do this by going there personally. You can apply for a CRBA by completing Form DS-2029 which is available on their site in most cases. Instructions for its completion are also generally available there. Information is generally listed in the section providing Services for American Citizens.

But suppose the child was born out of wedlock (birth parents not married at the time of birth) but the father is the US citizen through whom the child is claiming US citizenship. The website of the relevant US embassy or consulate with provide you with a Form DS-5507 so the US citizen father can acknowledge parentage of the child and agree to support his child. This form is made part of your CRBA application. If the US citizen father denies parentage (i.e. Being the biological father) then you should contact an Immigration attorney in the US for further guidance.

If the child was born out-of-wedlock, and the father is a U.S. citizen or non-citizen U.S national, use Form DS-5507 for the biological father to acknowledge the child and voluntarily agree to financially support he or she into the future, usually until 18, or in some jurisdictions, 21. Various other circumstances may also relieve the father of the obligation of support which we will not address at this time.

Upon approval of the CRBA, and upon further application therefore, the approving consulate or embassy will issue the child a Certificate of US citizenship and a US passport.

Here is a tip to avoid frustration and delay in obtain these documents:

Regarding the child’s birth certificate. This must be a part of your CRBA application. This will be generally issued by the foreign country at the place and time of birth. It must be an official government document showing both named parents, one of whom is a USC. (Note: a few foreign countries do not issue actual birth certificates. In this case there are several ways to obtain substitutes for the birth certificate such as baptismal records, church records, familial affidavits, etc.; but we will not go into those details at this time.)

If the US citizen father will acknowledge parentage of the child (that he is the biological father) then the use of the form DS-5507 is appropriate as noted above; if not, then you will need a US immigration attorney to assist you in establishing parentage through things such as affidavits of previous and public acknowledgements, DNA testing, and the like.

Thank You,
Cal Knickerbocker
Immigration Attorney

Client Reviews
Hello Cal, Just wanted to thank you for all your help...Just let me know if i can ever help you in the future as you certainly great help to me and Conney in this fiance visa process. I have restored and remodeled homes and also have ten years accounting background if you ever need the favor returned California would not be a bad place to take a volunteer vacation too with my fiance of course. Have a great week, Martin M.
Dear Cal, But a quick note to advise you that our petition for a K-1 visa for my fiance' has been approved...and you also might appreciate the fact that my submission was received by The Department Of Homeland Security on 28 September 2009 and approved on 26 October; [thus, only 28-days in the pipeline from their acceptance until their written approval]. I did exactly as you advised me to do and it apparently paid off. The average time for the Vermont office to respond is roughly 3-months+. We did good!!! Bruce B.
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Hi Cal, I guess I forgot to follow up with, but Josefina was approved on the day of her interview and her passport was sent back to her in a matter of days from that point. She is already here and we want to thank you for all your help. Everything went smooth it was just more of a waiting game. Best Regards. Anonymous