19 MINUTE READ
A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth if certain statutory requirements are met. The child’s parents should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA) to document that the child as a U.S. citizen.
Parents of a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen or citizens should apply for a CRBA and/or a U.S. passport for the child as soon as possible. Failure to promptly document a child who meets the statutory requirements for acquiring U.S. citizenship at birth may cause problems for the parents and the child when attempting to establish the child’s U.S. citizenship and eligibility for the rights and benefits of U.S. citizenship, including entry into the United States. By law, U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States.
To apply for a CRBA, please create a MyTravelGov account. Once you have created a MyTravelGov account you can access eCRBA, submit your application and pay online. Please fill out all sections completely, including times of physical presence in the U.S., and upload all supporting documentation (including proof of physical presence in the U.S.).
Once you have completed the eCRBA application, please follow the instructions below to schedule an interview.
To schedule a CRBA appointment in Beijing, please send an email to BeijingACS@state.gov with your eCRBA case number. CRBA appointments in Beijing cannot be reserved using the online appointment system.
To schedule a CRBA appointment in Shanghai, please send an email to ShanghaiACS@state.gov with your eCRBA case number. CRBA appointments in Shanghai cannot be reserved using the online appointment system.
To schedule a CRBA appointment in Guangzhou, please send an email to GuangzhouCRBA@state.gov with your eCRBA case number. CRBA appointments in Guangzhou cannot be reserved using the online appointment system.
To schedule a CRBA appointment in Shenyang, please send an email to ShenyangACS@state.gov with your eCRBA case number. CRBA appointments in Shenyang cannot be reserved using the online appointment system.
Eligibility for a CRBA
Children born abroad to U.S. citizen parents may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. The following is a brief description of the various circumstances under which a child born abroad acquires American citizenship.
Child born in wedlock to two U.S. citizens:
A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to citizenship, provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. No specific period of time is required.
Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non U.S. citizen parent on or after November 14, 1986:
A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship, providing the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child.
Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986:
A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen parent had, prior to the birth of the child, been physically present in the United States for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.
Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother on or before June 11, 2017
A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may be entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year (365 days) at some time prior to the birth of the child. (NOTE: Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, are NOT considered as physical presence in the U.S. for transmission under this category.)
Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother on or after June 12, 2017
A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may be entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 after the age of 14 at some time prior to the birth of the child. (NOTE: Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, are NOT considered as physical presence in the U.S. for transmission under this category.)
Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen father
A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen father may be entitled to U.S. Citizenship providing the U.S. citizen father had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after he reached the age of fourteen. In addition the U.S. citizen father must acknowledge paternity and agree in writing to provide financial support for the child until s/he reaches the age of 18 years.
Child born outside of China seeking a Consular Report of Birth Abroad
American Citizen Services will accept applications for Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA) if the child is born outside of China. ACS will forward the application to the appropriate office of the child’s birthplace (for example, the application for a child born in Hong Kong will be sent to Hong Kong for processing) and that office will determine if and when the CRBA will be issued.
Report Birth Abroad
As U.S. citizen parent(s), you should report your child’s birth abroad as soon as possible to the U.S. Consulate to establish an official record of the child’s claim to U.S. citizenship at birth. The official record will be the Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Form FS-240 which is a basic United States citizenship document.
Please Note: the name of your child that will appear on Form FS-240 Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA) must match exactly the name on the official birth certificate. Phonetic Romanization of Chinese characters is acceptable.
Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
A Consular Report of Birth (CRBA) is evidence of United States citizenship, issued to a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents who meet the requirements for transmitting citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
CRBA applications must be made before the child’s 18th birthday, and we recommend that the parents apply for the CRBA as soon as possible after the child’s birth. For applicants older than age 18 who have never been issued a CRBA, please refer to Possible Derivative Claim to U.S. Citizenship. Anyone who has a claim to U.S. citizenship must be in possession of a valid U.S passport to enter and exit the United States, even if they have citizenship of another country, as well.
The U.S. Embassy and all Consulates General in China cannot accept telephone calls, emails, or walk-in consultations regarding Social Security issues. Any questions or issues regarding the application for a social security number should be addressed to the Social Security Administration.
The child’s passport and Consular Report of Birth Abroad are processed by the U.S. State Department and take approximately two weeks to arrive.
Original documents must be presented with the applications. All original documents will be reviewed by a consular officer and returned to the applicant. Visitors are not allowed to bring any electronic devices into the Embassy, so please bring hard copies of all documents and photos needed for the appointment. In order to efficiently establish the U.S. citizenship of your child, please bring the following:
- The child’s original Chinese birth certificate and a clear, high-resolution photocopy of it;
- Passports or other proof of their citizenship and identity (required for both parents) of the child’s parents. Please also bring clear and high-resolution photocopies of the documents;
- Original or certified copy of parents’ marriage certificate and a clear, high-resolution photocopy of it;
- Evidence of the U.S. citizen parent’s physical presence in the U.S. This applies if only one parent is U.S. citizen, see details below;
- One recent 2 inches by 2 inches (5×5 cm) photo (see photo requirements);
- The following unsigned application forms: After you fill out the application forms online, print them, and bring them with you the day of your appointment.
- U.S. Passport application DS-11
Note: For DS-11 – enter zeroes in the SS# box.
- U.S. Passport application DS-11
- If only one parent can attend:
- If the parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth and the U.S. citizen father is not able to attend the appointment, Affidavit of Parentage, Physical Presence and Support DS-5507 (PDF 519 KB) is required. The form must be completed, signed and notarized, and should be presented along with a copy of the same identity document used to notarize the form.
- If applying also for a passport and one custodial parent is not able to attend, s/he must submit a notarized Statement of Consent DS-3053 (PDF 128 KB). A copy of the same identity document used to notarize the form must be attached to the form.
- Alternatively, the applying parent may submit one of the following documents:
- Child’s birth certificate listing only applying parent; or
- Court order granting sole custody to the applying parent. Child’s travel must not be restricted by that order; or
- Death certificate of non-applying parent, or judicial declaration of incompetence of non-applying parent.
- Prenatal and hospital birth records, pictures of the child’s growth and mother’s pregnancy;
- Both parents’ proof of termination of all previous marriage(s), if applicable; and
- Fees: USD 100 for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and USD 135 for a passport.
More information on how to report the birth of a child is available at the Department of State’s website.
Physical presence is the actual time when the parent was physically within the borders of the United States. This means that any travel outside the United States, including vacation, should be excluded. Maintaining a residence in the U.S. does not constitute physical presence. You may submit tax returns, wage statements (W2s), school transcripts, utility bills, rental/lease agreements, etc. as evidence of your physical presence in the United States. If you submit W-2s as evidence of physical presence, please also submit a letter from the employer stating your period of stay in the U.S. If a parent is a naturalized U.S. citizen, previous Chinese passports can be used as evidence of physical presence.
Note: Any periods of time spent overseas with the United States Military/Government or qualifying international organization (such as the United Nations) may be computed as physical presence in the United States for transmission of citizenship purposes. Time spent as a dependent of such person may also be computed as physical presence. Military records or other proof may be requested.
The child must appear in person with the parents when reporting the birth. Information on third party attendance during the passport and CRBA application process is available here (PDF 115KB).
In cases where the American citizenship of a child hasn’t been established, consular officers may require other documentation before a CRBA or passport can be issued. The consular officer will inform you of what documents may still be required. These documents should not be mailed, but must be presented in person at the Embassy/Consulate which has jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of birth or current place of residence.
Please note, once a U.S. passport is issued, the child’s parents must apply for a Chinese visa to ensure that they don’t have problems leaving the country. Please contact the local Chinese Exit and Entry Bureau (EEB) for information on how to apply for a Chinese visa.
Transmission of U.S. citizenship depends on:
- At least one parent having the nationality of the United States at the time of the child’s birth;
- The existence of a blood relationship between the child and U.S. citizen parent(s);
- Documentary evidence demonstrating the U.S. citizen parent(s)’ presence in the United States prior to the child’s birth, as specified in the Transmission Requirements Table below.
Examples of Documentation
Some examples of documentary evidence which may be considered to demonstrate that physical presence requirements have been met may include (but are not limited to):
- Wage and tax statements (W-2)
- Academic transcripts
- Employment records
- Rental receipts
- Records of honorable U.S. military service, employment with U.S. Government or certain intergovernmental international organizations; or as a dependent, unmarried child and member of the household of a parent in such service or employment (except where indicated).
- U.S. passport stamps may be considered a part of the evidence submitted, but should not be the sole documentary evidence. A driver’s license does not constitute evidence of physical presence.
If you have other children who have been issued with a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, this may be considered as supplemental evidence.
What does physical presence mean?
Physical presence in the U.S. means just that, you are physically present in the U.S., or in one of its Outlying Possessions. Merely maintaining a residence, possessing a drivers license or paying taxes, does not evidence your physical presence in the United States. Additionally, any travel outside of the U.S., including short trips to Canada or Mexico, cannot be counted towards your time in the U.S.
How can I prove my physical presence?
Primary evidence of your time spent in the U.S. is your current and old passports showing entry and exit stamps, official school transcripts and U.S. military discharge papers. Secondary evidence includes original utility or telephone bills, and bank statements on original letterhead with ATM transactions in the U.S. Other documents may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, documents must be original and/or a certified copy of the original.