Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Immigration Corner | Am I a US citizen?

Published:Tuesday | January 22, 2019 | 12:27 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
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Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington

I am writing to ask you for some advice about seeking citizenship as an adopted son of an American.

I was 14 years old when my parents adopted me in 1991. However, they separated shortly after the adoption. My mother died in 2014 and I am unable to contact my father for assistance. I am now a 41-year-old divorcee with two children (a son, 18, and a daughter, six).

Since reading your articles in The Gleaner, I realised that I may not be eligible for US citizenship.

What can I do, if possible, to apply for US citizenship? How will it affect my children, and does my father have to play a role in the process?

Thank you in advance, and I wish you all the best for 2019.

– NH

Dear NH

While some adopted children are eligible to acquire US citizenship from their US citizen adopted parents, it depends on which law was in effect at a given time – before or after the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) of 2000. The CCA went into effect February 27, 2001, and you would have had to have been under 18 on the date the CCA became effective to benefit from the act.

In your situation, where you were adopted prior to the CCA, you would not qualify for US citizenship from your adopted US citizen parents. It does not appear that you were ever admitted into the United States as a resident. If you were, then you would have to apply for US citizenship under your own accord and not through your US citizen parents.

QUALIFIED CITIZENS

However, for those persons adopted after the implementation of the CCA in 2001, they can qualify for US citizenship if:

■ They were admitted into the United States as a permanent resident before age 18;

■ They lived with their US citizen parents as a minor (must be documented).

Automatic citizenship can be helpful to many persons for the benefits that US citizenship provides, not the least of which is a bar from deportation. When consulting with clients facing deportation or who have already been deported, an attorney should perform the derivative citizenship test.

If there are other factors to your story, you should consult with an immigration attorney to explore your situation.

- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com