"I RECENTLY discovered I am pregnant. My husband and I are very excited. At the start of this year we began to make plans to return to Ireland. It's a move that I am ambivalent about, but he is determined that everything will be fine. I am an American citizen since 2005. My husband has a green card but never filed the papers for citizenship.

"My question is about our unborn child who will be born in Ireland. In the event that things do not work out at home we would, of course, like to return here. Would I be able to bring the baby back? Someone told me that the child would be a U.S. citizen even though it will be born in Ireland. Is this true? As you can see, I want to keep all of our options open for America, just in case."

YOU'RE absolutely right to do that. While the return home is a positive thing for many, it doesn't always work out for others.

The child you give birth to in Ireland will likely be a U.S. citizen. Children born abroad can claim U.S. citizenship at birth provided the following three criteria are met - one of the parents must be a U.S. citizen; the citizen parent must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years prior to the birth; at least two of these five years in the U.S. must have occurred after the citizen parent's 14th birthday.

We're going to assume that all of the above apply in your case, making your new child a U.S. citizen. You can register the birth at the U.S. Embassy in Dublin, and once this is completed you will be able to apply for an American passport.

Now, about your husband - is he doing anything to protect the validity of his green card? Before you leave the U.S. he should make sure and file for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (UCSIS).

The permit will keep his status valid for a two-year departure from the U.S.