Legal Requirements for Physical Presence in the U.S.

  1. Eligibility for a CRBA
  2. Transmitting Citizenship
  3. Legal Requirements for Physical Presence in the U.S.

Birth Abroad to U.S. Citizen Parent and Non-Citizen Parent

For a child born after November 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent must prove s/he was physically present in the U.S. for a total of at least five (5) years before the birth of the child. Two of those years must be after the U.S. citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

For a child born on or before November 14, 1986, the citizen parent must prove he/she was physically present in the U.S. for at least ten (10) years before the birth of the child. Five of those years must be after the U.S. citizen parent’s 14th birthday.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to U.S. Citizen Mother

A U.S. citizen mother, who was not married at the time of the child’s birth, must prove that she was physically present in the U.S. for at least one (1) continuous year any time prior to the child’s birth. This applies even if the mother subsequently married, and regardless of whether the father is listed on the birth certificate.

Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents

If both parents are U.S. citizens on the day the child was born, each parent must have resided in the U.S. at some point prior to the child’s birth. No specific length of time is specified under U.S. law.

DNA Examinations

In some instances it is not possible to conclusively determine the U.S. citizenship of a child at birth. In these cases, the Consular Officer may request a DNA exam to establish parentage. This will involve the supervised taking of saliva samples from the child and the father and/or mother. Please do not conduct independent DNA exams, as only results from Embassy ordered tests can be used to determine a genetic relationship for citizenship purposes.

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WARNING: False statements made knowingly and willfully in passport applications, affidavits or other supporting documents are punishable by fine and/or imprisonment under the provisions of 18 USC 1001 and/or 18 USC 1542.

For more information see Department of State webpage on report of birth abroad by clicking here.