NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Citizenship For Children Adopted From Abroad

February 27, 2001

Because of a law approved by Congress last year, the U.S. will gain 75,000 new citizens today -- all of them children. The Child Citizenship Act allows children adopted from abroad and living in this country to automatically become U.S. citizens. Previously, the adoptive U.S. parents had to submit to a costly and cumbersome naturalization process that sometimes took two years to complete.

  • The law stipulates that the children must be under 18 and at least one parent or legal guardian must be an American citizen.
  • About 20,000 such adoptions occur every year -- representing about 15 percent of all adoptions in the U.S.
  • Those who have been through it say the previous process required mountains of paperwork and a maze of rules involving the Immigration and Naturalization Service -- as well as a charge of $125 per application.
  • In some instances, unnaturalized children have faced difficulties later due to their ambiguous status -- ranging from inconveniences to deportation.

Local ceremonies to celebrate the new process are planned today in communities from Anchorage to Atlanta.

Source: Eric Schmitt, "Children Adopted Abroad Win Automatic Citizenship," New York Times, February 27, 2001.


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