Proving Physical Presence in the United States
If only one parent is a U.S. citizen and your child was born before November 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent must prove that he or she resided in the United States for a total of 10 years prior to the birth of the child, at least 5 years of which were after age of 14.
If your child was born after November 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent must prove a total of 5 years of physical presence in the United States prior to the birth of the child, at least 2 years of which were after the age of 14.
A U.S. citizen mother who has given birth to a child out of wedlock before June 12, 2017, must prove 12 months of continuous physical presence in the United States prior to the birth of the child. If the child was born out of wedlock after June 12, 2017, the U.S. citizen mother must prove a total of 5 years’ physical presence in the United States prior to the birth of the child, at least 2 years of which were after the age of 14.
What is Physical Presence? Why is it important?
If you are a U.S. citizen and your child is born overseas, you can transmit your U.S. citizenship to your child.
However, in order to transmit U.S. citizenship to your child, you must meet some basic legal requirements. Depending on your situation, you will have to prove that you were actually in the United States for enough time to qualify your child for U.S. citizenship.
Physical presence means the actual time you were in the United States. It is an exact accounting. If you were a student in the United States for an academic year and went abroad for the summer, you have only 9 months of physical presence, not 12. There is no waiver. The only exceptions to being on U.S. soil are if you were in active U.S. military or U.S. Government service and were sent overseas.
How can you show it?
There are several ways to prove your physical presence. Official records from the United States, such as high school, university and advanced degree transcripts are very helpful. A simple letter from the school saying you were a student there is usually not enough. Employment records are helpful, too. If you have copies of your W2 tax forms from your employer, salary slips, and tax returns, they will help to establish your presence. If your parents could claim you as a dependent on their U.S. tax returns, you can bring their papers.
What if you don’t have enough presence?
It does not mean your child cannot travel to the United States. If you can’t pass U.S. citizenship to your child, we will give you a letter stating that fact, and you can then apply for a tourist visa for the child.
If you are interested in your child becoming a U.S. citizen, the child may qualify for citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.