Form N-600K (downloadable for free from USCIS) is an application that a U.S. citizen parent can use to claim citizenship for their child, if the child qualifies for naturalization under § 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) or 8 U.S.C. § 1433. This section of U.S. federal law makes citizenship possible for children who were neither born in the U.S. nor obtained citizenship automatically at birth, but who regularly live outside the United States with a U.S. citizen parent or parents.
If a child is residing in the United States as a permanent resident, the procedure is different than described in this article. The parent must instead file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship Based on U.S. Citizen Parents
Section 322 establishes citizenship eligibility through parentage for children who live outside the United States. In order to be eligible for citizenship under this section, the child must satisfy the following requirements:
- The child has at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth in the U.S. or by naturalization.
- The U.S. citizen parent has, at some point, spent five or more years physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions; and at least two of those years were after the parent had reached 14 years of age.
- If the parent is unable to satisfy the above requirement, the parent's U.S. citizen parent (the child's grandparent) must meet the same physical presence requirements.
- The child has not yet turned 18.
- The child is residing outside the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. parent, and
- The child is temporarily and lawfully present in the United States (with a visa or green card) and is maintaining lawful status there.
Adopted children can acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 322 if they were adopted before they reached 16 years of age and otherwise meet all the requirements for an adopted child or orphan. See How Foreign-Born Adopted Children Get U.S. Citizenship.
Form N-600K can also be submitted by a U.S. citizen grandparent or legal guardian if the U.S. citizen birth parent died within the previous five years. In that case, it's not necessary that the child live in the grandparent's legal and physical custody.
Completing Form N-600K
Form N-600K is relatively straightforward. The following are tips to keep in mind when completing it (referring to the version of the form issued on 09/17/19):
- Part 1 asks the applicant for the basis of the child's eligibility for a Certificate of Citizenship. This must be completed or the application may be rejected. For "A-Number," this would be the alien registration number on the child's green card (if any).
- Part 2 asks for basic biographical information about the child. Don't worry if the child doesn't already have a Social Security number of a USCIS Online Account Number; these answers can be left blank. Question 14 asks about the child's current immigration status; you must leave this blank, for the U.S. government officer to complete at the interview. Question 16 requests additional information for adopted children, including the dates of legal and physical custody. If the child is not a beneficiary of an approved I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, the parent must show two years of legal and physical custody of the child.
- Part 3 asks for basic biographic information about the U.S. citizen parent.
- Part 4 does not need to be completed unless the physical presence requirement is being satisfied by the U.S. citizen grandparent.
- In Part 5, the U.S. citizen parent must include information about his or her past physical presence in the United States, to satisfy the five-year requirement.
- Part 6 does not need to be completed unless the U.S. citizen parent is deceased and a legal guardian is filing this application on behalf of the child.
- Part 7 is where you'll advise U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as to which of its U.S. field offices you'd like to attend the interview at, and when. Choose the timing carefully; you have to give USCIS at least 90 days after it receives the application to schedule the interview; but you also need to make sure it's scheduled before the child's 18th birthday.
- Part 8 must be signed by the child seeking U.S. citizenship. A parent or legal guardian can sign for a child who is under the age of 14.
- Part 9 should be filled out if you used an interpreter to help understand the form; and the interpreter must sign here.
- Part 10 will be filled out and signed by your lawyer or other preparer, if you use one.
- Part 11 is for any leftover information you couldn't fit onto the main form.
- Part 12 should be left blank, as it will be completed at the interview, to indicate that the applicants swears to tell the truth.
- Part 13 should also be left blank, as it will be completed by the immigration officer upon making a decision on the application.
Submitting Form N-600K to USCIS
Once you're done with the form, you can submit it to USCIS either online or by mail.
If sending by mail, here are some additional tips for preparing the package:
- Arrange the supporting documents in the same order as requested in the N-600K instruction packet. Always include certified English translations of foreign-language documents and never submit original documents unless requested.
- The filing fee must be paid by either a check, money order, or credit card (in which case you'll also need to include Form G-1450). Consult the USCIS website before filing, as fees are subject to change.
- Send the complete application package to the USCIS lockbox listed on the USCIS website. Double check the address before filing, as filing locations sometimes change.
Progress of USCIS Action on Form N-600K
After you've filed the application, USCIS will issue an I-797 receipt notice. It will include your case number. This number must be referenced any time you make an inquiry about the case. You can use it to check the status of USCIS's progress on their website. (And there's also an online way to check USCIS's normal processing time for a particular type of application.)
Once USCIS has reviewed the N-600K application, the child will be scheduled for an in-person interview. At that time, the child will have to show proof of lawful entry to the U.S., most likely a Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
If all goes well, USCIS will approve the child to receive a Certificate of Citizenship.
If You Need Legal Help
An immigration attorney can be a valuable resource in preparing the N-600K application. This is particularly true in cases where it is not clear that the child qualifies for citizenship under Section 322.