Things To Do For Your US Citizen Child
Here’s what the basic US law regarding citizenship at birth is in relatively simple terms. You can read and accept these words, or you can ignore the facts and nothing will happen to you, perhaps, but you’ll screw up your children’s lives and rights forever.
REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSMISSION OF US CITIZENSHIP AT BIRTH
In order to transmit U.S. citizenship to a child, the U.S. citizen parent(s) must have been a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and must have accrued sufficient physical presence in the U.S. to transmit citizenship. The physical presence requirements depend on the child’s date of birth and the marital status of the parents at the time of the child’s birth.
For your child to benefit from US citizenship at the time of birth, US nationality law requires that certain conditions must be met. The conditions have been modified by legislation over time, but none of the modifications were made retroactive, hence the variations defined here. (read more about the conditions here)
Don’t Most US Citizens Already Know TheseRules?
Apparently not. Recently we’ve had a few spirited discussions regarding children born to US citizen parents here in the Philippines. You can see some of the ongoing discussions here:
I wanted to write something short, sweet and too the point, since I have come to know a number of US citizen parents who not only don’t choose to take care of their responsibilities to their children, but are actively encouraging other US citizen parents to neglect their own responsibilities.
But I’ve Been Busy With Life, I Have No Time
Well I can certainly understand that. It’s a predicament we all suffer from as we pass though life, but let me assure you of one thing — the longer you wait, the longer the task will take and the more it will cost.
Time is Of the Essence (That means, It’s Important!)
The US Embassy, Manila, representing the US Department of State, has this to say:
We encourage parents to document their child’s citizenship as soon as possible after the birth. Delays in reporting of the birth of your child could cause inconvenience and possibly deprive your child of this valuable document because persons age 18 and over are not eligible for a CRBA. ….
I have a particularly emotional attachment to this guidance because over my years of running this site I have received a number of requests for help from people living here in the Philippines who have been born of one US Citizen parent, who never got their Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CBRA) and approved before they attained the age of 18.
These folks had the right of US citizenship at birth, and actually still do, but the path to citizenship they now face is infinitely more difficult than if their US parent had only documented their US citizen birthright with a CBRA. (If you are a child of a US citizen and over 18, go here to learn about your options).
Why The CBRA is Important to a Child
A Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), FS-240, is an official record of U.S. citizenship issued to a person under age 18 who was born abroad to United States citizen parent(s) and acquired citizenship at birth. Schools, the Social Security Agency, and other institutions throughout the United States accept it and give it the same credence they give to birth certificates (my emphasis) issued by state authorities in the United States.
There’s some important points to be gleaned from this paragraph. A Birth Certificate is the foundation stone to almost everything we do as a US citizen. You need a Birth Certificate to get your initial SSAN. You need a birth certificate to start school. You need a Birth Certificate to get a passport, to enlist in the US military, get a driver’s license, apply for Medicare or Social Security benefits, and on and on.
US Citizens Born Abroad Do NOT get a US Birth Certificate
For some reason a number of US citizen parents seem to have the idea that sometime in the future they will take their children to the USA and some how in some way get them a US Birth Certificate. In case this applies to you, let me deliver some news. This will not happen!
There is no such thing as a birth certificate issued by the federal government of the USA. (that’s the purpose served by a CRBA). The various states of the United States are empowered to issue birth certificates to children born within the boundaries of their individual states.
They can NOT (legally, anyway) issue a birth certificate for a child born elsewhere. (Surely many of you remember the huge “Birther” debate a few years ago when opponents of President Obama claimed that although the president has a birth certificate from the state of Hawaii, he was actually born in Indonesia and the Hawaiian birth certificate was thus invalid).(no political comments, please).
You can not take your child back to the USA and get him or her a birth certificate there.
Don’t Limit Your Child’s Life
It may be inconvenient. It may cost some money. It may take some time out of your busy life. But if you bring a child into the world as a US Citizen, you owe him or her their birth right. Register their birth abroad and give them their proper chance at life.
Now the question you have to answer for yourself is, do you care about the Things To Do For Your US Citizen Child.