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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.
As a result of the attack on the Embassy in Baghdad in December 2019 and the global pandemic, American Citizen Services are available only on an emergency basis in Erbil. Please email ErbilACS@state.gov to make an appointment.
Renunciation is the most unequivocal way in which a person can manifest an intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship. Please consider the effects of renouncing U.S. citizenship, described below, before taking this serious and irrevocable action.
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Child born in wedlock to two U.S. citizens:
A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to citizenship, provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required.)
Birth abroad to one citizen and one alien parent in wedlock
A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided that the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth.
- For births on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years of physical presence in the U.S., two after the age of fourteen, is required.
- For births between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years of physical presence in the U.S., five after the age of fourteen is for a parent to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.
Applicant born abroad out of wedlock on or after June 12, 2017 to a U.S. citizen mother:
An applicant born abroad out of wedlock on or after June 12, 2017 to a U.S. citizen mother and alien father acquires U.S. citizenship at birth if the U.S. citizen mother has been physically present in the United States five years, two of which are after the age of 14, prior to the applicant’s birth. Transmission is through the mother under INA 309 (c), provided that she now meets – as directed by the Supreme Court’s Morales-Santana opinion – the 5/2 physical presence requirement set out in INA 301(g).
Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father:
A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and a foreign national mother may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(g) INA, as made applicable by Section 309(a) INA provided that: the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child’s birth. For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence in the U.S., two after the age of fourteen is required. For births between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years physical presence in the U.S., five after the age of fourteen, is required for a parent to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child. In addition the applicant must document the following:
* A blood relationship between the applicant and the father established by clear and convincing evidence;
* The father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant’s birth;
* The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and
* While the claimant is under the age of 18 years:
- Applicant is legitimated under the law of their country of residence or domicile,
- Father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing and under oath, or
- The paternity of the applicant is established by the adjudication of a court
I believe that my child has claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?
If you believe that your child has a claim to U.S. Citizenship, it will be necessary for the parents to appear in person at the Embassy in order to execute an application for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) before a consular officer. At that time, a passport application may also be executed. Please familiarize yourself with all requirements and appointment procedures prior to contacting the American Citizen Services (ACS) for an appointment. If you wish to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad for your child, you must contact BAGHDADCRBA@state.gov or ErbilACS@State.gov. Do not make an appointment for a passport or you will be turned away.
Children with no claim to U.S. citizenship
What if I do not meet the requirements for transmission of citizenship to my child?
If you believe that your child does not have a claim to U.S. Citizenship, it may be possible for your child to apply for naturalization or an immigrant visa. Please contact the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS for further information or check the USCIS website for Child Citizenship Act of 2000 laws and regulations.
I am over the age of 18 and my birth has not been reported and I believe I have a claim to U.S. citizenship. What next?
If you believe that you have a claim to U.S. Citizenship please contact the American Citizen Services at BaghdadACS@state.gov with a detailed description of your claim.
To renounce U.S. citizenship, you must voluntarily and with intent to relinquish U.S. citizenship:
- appear in person before a U.S. consular or diplomatic officer,
- in a foreign country (normally at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate); and
- sign an oath of renunciation
- pay a $2350.00 fee
Americans cannot effectively renounce their citizenship by mail, through an agent, or while in the United States because of the provisions of section 349(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Renunciations that do not meet the conditions described above have no legal effect. In fact, U.S. courts have held certain attempts to renounce U.S. citizenship to be ineffective on a variety of grounds, as discussed below.
Renouncing all rights and privileges
A person who wants to renounce U.S. citizenship cannot decide to retain some of the privileges of citizenship, as this would be logically inconsistent with the concept of renunciation. A person who attempts to retain some rights lacks a full understanding of renouncing citizenship and/or lacks the necessary intent to renounce citizenship. The Department of State will not approve a loss of citizenship in such instances.
Dual nationality / statelessness
If you renounce your U.S. citizenship and do not already possess a foreign nationality, you may be rendered stateless and, thus, lack the protection of any government. You may also have difficulty traveling as you may not be entitled to a passport from any country. Even if you are not stateless, you would still be required to obtain a visa to travel to the United States, or show that you are eligible for admission pursuant to the terms of the Visa Waiver Program (VWPP). You could be barred from entering the United States if found ineligible for a visa or the VWPP, under certain circumstances. Nonetheless, renunciation of U.S. citizenship may not prevent a foreign country from deporting an individual back to the United States, in some non-citizen status.
Tax & military obligations / no escape from prosecution
Also, renouncing your U.S. citizenship may have no effect whatsoever on your U.S. tax or military service obligations. (Contact the Internal Revenue Service or U.S. Selective Service for more information). In addition, the act of renouncing U.S. citizenship will not allow you to avoid possible prosecution for crimes which you may have committed in the United States, or escape the repayment of financial obligations previously incurred in the United States or incurred as United States citizens abroad.
Renunciation for minor children
Parents cannot renounce U.S. citizenship on behalf of their minor children. Before an oath of renunciation will be administered under Section 349(a) (5) of the INA, a person under the age of eighteen must convince a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer that he/she fully understands the nature and consequences of the oath of renunciation, is not subject to duress or undue influence, and is voluntarily seeking to renounce his/her U.S. citizenship.
Irrevocability of renunciation
Finally, renouncing U.S. citizenship is irrevocable and cannot be canceled or set aside without successful administrative or judicial appeal. An applicant who renounced his or her U.S. citizenship before the age of eighteen can have that citizenship reinstated if he or she makes that desire known to the Department of State within six months after attaining the age of eighteen.
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Generally, immediate family members may accompany passport or CRBA applicants to their appointment interviews at a U.S. embassy or consulate, and all minor children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Passport or CRBA applicants also have the option of being accompanied by an attorney at their appointment interview. Attendance by any third party, including an attorney, accompanying an applicant is subject to the following parameters designed to ensure an orderly appointment interview process and to maintain the integrity of the adjudication of the application(s):
- Given space limitations in the consular section, not more than one attendee at a time will be allowed to accompany an applicant (or the applicant’s parent or guardian if the applicant is a minor).
- Attendance by an attorney does not excuse the applicant and/or the minor applicant’s parent or guardian from attending the appointment interview in person.
- The manner in which a passport or CRBA appointment interview is conducted, and the scope and nature of the inquiry, shall at all times be at the discretion of the consular officer, following applicable Departmental guidance.
- It is expected that attorneys will provide their clients with relevant legal advice prior to, rather than at, the appointment interview, and will advise their clients prior to the appointment interview that the client will participate in the appointment interview with minimal assistance.
- Attorneys may not engage in any form of legal argumentation during the appointment interview and before the consular officer.
- Attendees other than a parent or guardian accompanying a minor child may not answer a consular officer’s question on behalf or in lieu of an applicant, nor may they summarize, correct, or attempt to clarify an applicant’s response, or interrupt or interfere with an applicant’s responses to a consular officer’s questions.
- To the extent that an applicant does not understand a question, s/he should seek clarification from the consular officer directly.
- The consular officer has sole discretion to determine the appropriate language(s) for communication with the applicant, based on the facility of both officer and applicant and the manner and form that best facilitate communication between the consular officer and the applicant. Attendees may not demand that communications take place in a particular language solely for the benefit of the attendee. Nor may attendees object to or insist on the participation of an interpreter in the appointment interview, to the qualifications of any interpreter, or to the manner or substance of any translation.
- No attendee may coach or instruct applicants as to how to answer a consular officer’s question.
- Attendees may not object to a consular officer’s question on any ground (including that the attendee regards the question to be inappropriate, irrelevant, or adversarial), or instruct the applicant not to answer a consular officer’s question. Attendees may not interfere in any manner with the consular officer’s ability to conduct all inquiries and fact-finding necessary to exercise his or her responsibilities to adjudicate the application.
- During a passport or CRBA appointment interview, attendees may not discuss or inquire about other applications.
- Attendees may take written notes, but may not otherwise record the appointment interviews.
- Attendees may not engage in any other conduct that materially disrupts the appointment interview. For example, they may not yell at or otherwise attempt to intimidate or abuse a consular officer or staff, and they may not engage in any conduct that threatens U.S. national security or the security of the embassy or its personnel. Attendees must follow all security policies of the Department of State and the U.S. embassy or consulate where the appointment interview takes place.
- Attendees may not engage in any conduct that violates this policy and/or otherwise materially disrupts the appointment interview. Failure to observe these parameters will result in a warning to the attendee and, if ignored, the attendee may be asked to leave the appointment interview and/or the premises, as appropriate. It would then be the applicant’s choice whether to continue the appointment interview without the attendee present, subject to the consular officer’s discretion to terminate the appointment interview. The safety and privacy of all applicants awaiting consular services, as well as of consular and embassy personnel, is of paramount consideration.