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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Paperwork once you are home: Certificat of Citizenship

3. With the new two trip rule the process here has changed for most. If both parents (or single parent) has met the child BEFORE court and AFTER referral then your child will enter the US on an IR3 visa and will automatically receive citizenship and the Certificate of Citizenship for no extra fee. How nice. I understand that this comes within one to two months of entering the US with your child after adoption. The child will have their Ethiopian name and the adoptive father's name as middle name and then your last name.... mostly (2008-11). If you want to change names there is a fee in the neighborhood of $300 + or so to get a new Certificate of Citizenship with the name change on it. I think you can do a Date of Birth change with tons of proof on it at the same time. I do not know if you change their name and or date of birth on the Validation if that nullifies the COC or not. I expect it is traceable to them and still proof of citizenship. Getting that COC without the validation first is causing a great deal of complications for name changes and date of birth changes.

For those of you who adopted under the old policies or who have had to recieve a waiver and only one parent met your child prior to court then the following applies to you.
Apply for your child's citizenship papers. (USCIS forms and info and fact sheet on citizenship) You will need to fill out the N-600 and pay the $550 per child (2013, this will go up each year). They DO  NOT accept personal checks you will need a bank check or money order. Until you do this your child WILL NOT be able to prove the he or she is a citizen of the US. This means your kids entered on an IR-4 visa (meaning the court procedure declaring the child officially yours happened before you met them in Ethiopia). In addition my understanding of and experience with this is that you will not be able to do this until after you have filed for and received the validation of foreign adoption as the US does not consider the adoption full and final abroad for certain legalities that I do not understand. Even though it is, you still have to have this paper. You DO NOT have to apply for the green card, your child is a legal alien (you should have received a green care in the mail after returning to the US) until the validation of foreign adoption at which time they become a citizen but can't prove it, they keep the green card as their form of ID. If you come in to the States on IR-4 you will get the green card automatically. (Two trip families who both traveled for court: If you come in on IR 3 your child will be automatically a Naturalized Citizen and you get the COC.) If your child comes in on IR 4 -YOU MUST FILE FOR PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP, while your child is a citizen after the validation they can not prove it without this. This can get sticky after they turn 18. A passport should prove this, but there have been some issues with it for some.

Other notes on this process:
From USCIS "The USCIS has re-engineered its processing in order to streamline the production of Certificates of Citizenship for certain children adopted abroad. Streamlined processes have been developed for newly entering IR-3 children who are automatically U.S. Citizens when they arrive. These newly entering IR-3 children will receive Certificates of Citizenship within 45 days of their arrival instead of receiving a Permanent Resident Card and then filing the
N-600 for a Certificate. (Please see our Fact Sheet for additional information)" This is NOT for a child entering on IR4 visa. It later explains that you have to buy that proof if both parents did not meet the child before the foreign adoption.


 Notes on Citizenship:
*****:A word on Citizenship (Italics and bold mine. )

from the US gov. page
"U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR AN ADOPTED CHILD It’s very important that you make sure your adopted child becomes a U.S. citizen. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was designed to make the citizenship acquisition process easier and eliminate extra steps and costs. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad can automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if:
1. At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen;
2. The child is under the age of 18;
3. The child is admitted to the United States as an immigrant for lawful permanent residence; and
4. The adoption is final. (re-adopt or validation is complete)

Because of the Child Citizenship Act, many (IR3) parents are no longer required to make a separate application for their children to be naturalized. If your adoption doesn’t meet these requirements, however, acquiring citizenship for your child will require an additional process and additional fees. If you postpone or even forget to file for your child’s naturalization, your child may have difficulty getting college scholarships, working legally, voting, et cetera. In some cases, your child might actually be subject to possible deportation. Make plans right away to protect your child’s future."
Page 31 | FROM A to Z

From the USCIS website:
"Children with IR-4 and IH-4 visas:
   - do not acquire automatic citizenship upon entry to the U.S., but
   instead become permanent residents.
   - will automatically receive a permanent resident card (green card).
   - will automatically acquire citizenship on the date of their adoption in
   United States, if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday."
USCIS site on this issue

"Permanent Residence (a "green card") grants the right to live in, leave and
reenter, and work in the U.S. It does not grant, for instance, the right to
vote in U.S. elections. Permanent Residence may be deemed abandoned if the
U.S. government believes that the permanent resident has not maintained
sufficient ties to the U.S. to demonstrate intent to keep it. It can also be
revoked if, for instance, the permanent resident commits certain crimes.

Citizenship includes all those rights, plus the right to vote and certain
other rights. Citizenship cannot be deemed abandoned even if the citizen
resides aborad for long periods of time without strong ties to the U.S. It
can be taken away, but normally only if the naturalized citizen can be
proven to have misrepresented something during the naturalization process
(or does something which could also cause removal of citizenship to a
U.S.-born citizen, such as fighting with a foreign army against the U.S.)" 

My personal opinion note on this: It has been the experience of several families and on the advice of several agencies involved with adoptions as well as adoption lawyers, that it is imperative that you get the COC for your child. The passport will not prove citizenship in an official way before you validate the adoption in the US, because they are permanent residents, not citizens. It is debatable if it proves citizenship after the validation/finalization/readopt. I realize that the documents are not 100% clear on this issue, there is debate on this subject. However, I make this statement on the experience of so many others who I have read about and met on line finding out the hard way that they needed the COC. For the passport you pay for it every few years and after they are 18 they have to keep doing it, or they bear the burden of having to go through all the naturalization stuff that you could have spared them, they can not just get the COC after they are 18. You pay for the COC once-before they are 18. In the end the cost of the renewal of a passport and the risk of it lapsing and the burden of maintaining it after 18 is a far greater cost and risk than paying the $420 for the COC one time and never having to consider it again. You KNOW you have done the best thing for your child the first time.

When should I do this?
I would strongly suggest starting on this while you are waiting for the embassy date. You can download most of the forms to your computer and fill out what you can and get the name off the adoption birth certificate, etc. when you receive it. You will need the court adoption forms from Ethiopia. You can have the validation papers ready to go when you get home with a few add in's and that will be great being as tired as you will be when you get home. Sometimes, for older kids you need to wait a bit to see if their given age is off or not. Mostly it is, but if it needs changed is entirely up to you. In any case you have until they turn 18 to do this, of course I think it is best to get it done in the first two years home.

Legal information
Government page on International adoption
Inter Country adoptions A-Z
Adoption magazine guide to paperwork, clear and well laid out.
What ID do you need for what services or proofs? Check it out here.
Article on why you should get the Certificate of Citizenship

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