Q: Passports for Children

“I AM writing to you from Ireland. I was undocumented in the U.S. for more than two years, decided I couldn’t handle it and returned home. I also gave birth to a child while in the U.S., six months before I left. I have no contact with her father and do not wish to. My daughter has a Social Security number but no U.S. passport. She traveled home on an Irish one. Could I get her a U.S. passport in Ireland? I am thinking of returning to the U.S. as I lost my job here. I have a sister over there, and my daughter would of course be returning with me if that’s what I choose to do. Because of her, would I be able to get a green card, or some other type of legal status?”

A: To answer your first question, as your daughter is an American citizen you would be able to apply on her behalf for a U.S. passport at the American Embassy in Dublin.

However, you should be aware that there are fairly strict laws in place with regards to U.S. passport issuance for minors under the age of 16. You say that you do not have contact with the child’s father, but if he is listed on her birth certificate as the father, chances are that you are going to have to get his permission to apply for the passport.

This would not be the case if you have a court order providing you with sole legal custody of your child, or if her birth certificate does not include his name.

Otherwise, you will have to contact your former partner and have him consent to passport issuance. He will have to complete and notarize State Department DS-3053, which provides this consent. Once you have this completed form, you will then be able to apply for your daughter’s U.S. passport without problem.

There is plenty of information about this topic on the American Embassy’s website at www.dublin.usembassy.gov, or www.travel.state.gov. There are other forms that you’ll have to provide, but given your circumstances the most important would be DS-3053 if you are not the sole custodial parent.

As regards to your own status if you return to the U.S., your daughter being a citizen won’t provide much help to you at this juncture. You say you have a sister here as well, but even if she is a citizen you’d have to wait years for visa processing if she acted as your sponsor. 

U.S. citizens can act as green card sponsors for siblings, but there are only 65,000 such visas given each year, and the years-long wait is prohibitive. For November of 2009, those who submitted applications on or before June 15, 1999 were being processed, so clearly the 4th family preference category that makes sibling green cards available is for long-term planners.

Parents who have a U.S. citizen child, as you do, are also eligible for green card issuance through this connection. However, the sponsoring child must be 21 years of age or older before this can happen.   Your daughter seems to be a toddler at most, so this type of sponsorship will not be an option for you at this time.

Though things are undoubtedly tough in Ireland, being an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. is no picnic, either, as most of the Irish undocumented here would undoubtedly agree. If you couldn’t handle it two years ago, guaranteed it won’t be any easier now.