The immigration-adoption rules are about to change again. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child becomes a citizen automatically if the following criteria were met:
(1) One parent is a citizen by birth or naturalization.
(2) The child is under age 18.
(3) The child has a green card.
(4) The child is residing in the US in the physical and legal custody of the citizen parent. (I have lots to say about what physical and legal custody mean, but that’s another blog for another day. Call or e-mail me if you have questions.)

This law means that children who are adopted abroad before they receive their immigrant visa (i.e. they enter on IR 3 visas) becomes US citizens immediately upon admission to the United States. There’s a huge problem with the law as it stands. Individuals who were are over age 18 when the law went into effect could not benefit from it. Read my thoughts on the Adam Crasper case here.

Why does that matter? The age criteria i.e. the requirement that the child be under the age of 18, meant that children who were already over age 18 at the time the law passed were left out. This becomes problematic if that now adult adopted child commits an offence that leads to removal from the US (i.e. deportation), two or more crimes of moral turpitude, claims to be a citizen when he or she knows they are not one, remains outside of the United States for an extended period of time or does any of the other myriad of things that can lead to deportation.

It also prevents individuals who have lived in the United States for essentially their entire lives, and who have been raised by American parents from voting, from obtaining certain military clearances, from applying for certain government positions and hold US passports.

We have an entire section of the adoption community, adult children who were often adopted as infants and their parents, that still do not have the permanency they deserve. Soon, we’ll be striking this from long list of subtle discrimination that adoptees and their parents face on a regular basis.

Under the new law, The Adoptee Citizenship Act, 2015, the age requirement will be removed. If it passes, all adult adoptees who were over age 18 at the time the current law became effective will gain retroactive citizenship. How cool is that? More interestingly, adults who were adopted as children but were later deported from the United States will likely have an opportunity to return. Fun times ahead!

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