“I received a Morrison green card in 1993. I stayed in the U.S. for six years and also became a citizen during that time, as did my husband. We had a daughter born in New York, and had a child after we returned home.
“Now we are thinking of returning to the U.S. because my husband lost his job here and I am also unemployed. We are worried about the status of our youngest daughter born here. Someone told me that because my husband and I are citizens that she is also a citizen, but that doesn’t seem right to me. How will we be able to get her to the U.S. legally?”
The information you received about your youngest child being a U.S. citizen at birth is correct, believe it or not.
A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents who are married receives automatic U.S. citizenship at birth provided that one of the parents had a prior residence in the U.S. This period of residence does not have a specific amount of time attached to it, so clearly you and your husband are eligible.
The next step you’ll need to take is registering her birth at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. You’ll have to complete an application for a consular report of a birth abroad, and among the items you’ll need to present are her birth certificate, your marriage certificate and evidence of U.S. citizenship (a U.S. passport or naturalization certificate).
The report must be filed in person at the embassy, so plan on setting time aside to do that. You can make an appointment at the embassy’s website, www.dublin.usembassy.gov. The site also includes detailed information on the paperwork you’ll need to complete.
If everything is in order the consular report can be approved on the spot. You’ll then be able to immediately apply for a U.S. passport for your daughter, and a Social Security number.
Converting your Morrison green cards into U.S. citizenship at the appropriate time was clearly advantageous for you and your husband. Not only can you travel to and from the U.S. when you want, but you were able to give instant citizenship to your child born in Ireland. None of this would have been possible if you left the U.S. as permanent residents.
If a child born outside the U.S. has an American citizen parent, chances are that citizenship can be passed down to the child. Being born to two U.S. married citizen parents is the easiest way for this to happen, but the law accounts for other ways as well.
For instance, a child born abroad in wedlock to one citizen parent and a non-citizen can acquire citizenship at birth, provided that the citizen was physically present in the U.S. for five years, at least two of which occurred after the citizen’s 14th birthday.
U.S. citizen parent(s) seeking citizenship for children born out of wedlock have more hurdles to overcome. A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen mother and non-citizen father acquires citizenship at birth provided that the mother was physically present in the U.S. for at least a year before the child’s birth.
A child born to a U.S. citizen father and non-citizen mother can also become a citizen at birth, provided that the alien mother completes an affidavit to establish paternity of a child at a U.S. consular office. The father must sign a sworn statement agreeing to provide financial support for the child until the child turns 18. The father must also provide a written statement acknowledging paternity.