November 20, 2009

Am I an American?


I am a U.S. citizen living in the Eastern Caribbean and I just had a baby. Is my baby a U.S. citizen and eligible for a U.S. passport?

Maybe. You may be able to execute a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and apply for a U.S. passport for the baby.{{more}} To transmit your U.S. citizenship to the baby, first a consular officer will need to determine whether the child was born in or out of wedlock and then whether one or both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of the baby’s birth. If the child was born to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-citizen parent, then the U.S. citizen parent is required by law to have been physically present in the U.S. for a specified period of time prior to the child’s birth. If you believe you have a U.S. citizen child, you should contact the American Citizen Services Unit in Barbados at (246) 227-4193 (Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.) or by e-mail at consularbridge2@state.gov to request an appointment. The Consular Section will review the case to determine whether or not your child acquired U.S. citizenship at birth. Please note that you will be required to show proof of your presence in the U.S. in order to transmit your citizenship to your child. To do this you can present school records, employment records, proof of residence in the U.S., etc.

I know that in order to transmit my U.S. citizenship to my child born in the Eastern Caribbean I must demonstrate that I lived a certain amount of years in the United States. How can I do that?

One of the key requirements in the transmission of U.S. citizenship is the physical presence requirement. The amount of time you must have been physically present in the U.S. varies, depending on your situation.

To satisfy the physical presence requirement you must present documents in your interview that prove your presence in the United States. Applicants often fail to satisfy this requirement because they do not bring this proof to their interview. As a result, they delay and complicate their case. Documents that can establish physical presence may include school records, job letters, or medical records.

One of the most successful ways to satisfy the physical presence requirement is to present the Social Security Statement of Earnings. It clearly summarizes ALL the years you were earning income in the United States. By presenting it, you avoid the delay that other, less succinct documents often produce. However, you should also bring additional, corroborating evidence because some people are paid by U.S. companies even when they do not physically reside in the United States.

To get a Social Security Statement of Earnings visit the following website: http://www.ssa.gov/online/ssa-7004.html. It will show you how to get your statement in the mail in about 2 – 4 weeks.

If you were employed in the U.S. over the years, send for your Social Security Statement of Earnings and present it at the interview for your child’s CRBA, along with the additional corroborating employment information.

Why did the consular officer request a DNA test?

In certain cases, the consular officer may request a DNA test to prove the required biological relationship exists. DNA is the most reliable way to determine that the necessary biological relationship exists in order for an applicant to qualify for citizenship or an immigrant visa. Unfortunately, these tests are sometimes necessary because of the high levels of relationship fraud that exist throughout the world. A biological relationship is a relationship established by blood line. U.S. law does not recognize informal relationships because they are not blood relationships.

If the consular officer requests a DNA test, he or she will provide you with a list of specific instructions and approved laboratories. The applicant must make an appointment with the designated panel physician in Barbados to give his/her sample. If the other person to give a sample is in the United States he/she can give the sample to an accredited laboratory there. The process can take about two months or more to receive the results. The laboratory will send the results directly to the Embassy and we will then contact the applicant with instructions on the next steps.

Any further questions about this, or other Consular and travel topics can be found at our website at http://barbados.usembassy.gov.