Post-Adoption Documentation

Post-adoption documentation for international adoptees


International Adoptees who qualify for automatic U.S. Citizenship

On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 went into effect, making approximately 75,000 children citizens. The law states that children meeting specific criteria will automatically become citizens of the United States. Families adopting a foreign-born child today whose child meets the qualifications will automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship for their child within six to eight weeks of their arrival to the United States. Children who qualify for automatic citizenship, beginning on February 27, 2001: • Have at least one U.S. citizen parent. • Are under 18 years of age. • Were admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident via an IR3 or IH3 Visa. • Are in the legal and physical custody of at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.

International Adoptees who do not qualify for automatic U.S. Citizenship under the CCA

If an international adoption is completed under the I-600 process and only one parent travels, your child will enter the U.S. with an IR4 Visa, and you will need to apply for your child’s Certification of U.S. Citizenship using USCIS form N-600.

Prior to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, adoptive parents needed to file for a Certificate of Citizenship for their child after their adoption was finalized. Some adoptive parents who adopted in the early years of the Child Citizenship Act may have still needed to obtain a COC for their child until the process was more streamlined, even if the adoptee qualified for automatic citizenship. COC’s began to be automatically issued for finalized international adoptions under the CCA beginning on 1/1/2004. A Certificate of Citizenship is the documentation that provides non-expiring evidence of U.S. Citizenship.

A foreign-born adoptee who has reached the age of 18 and did not naturalize or acquire U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act or a previous statute may be able to apply for naturalization by filing the Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) with USCIS if certain criteria is met. Note: If you have previously received a COC and a correction is needed, or you need to obtain a replacement, you may file the N-565 application.

U.S. Birth Certificate

To receive a United States birth certificate for your adopted child, first consult with a local international adoption agency in your state. Each state has its own process, and a local adoption agency will best be able to guide you through the required steps and forms. Your local Vital Records office or an attorney experienced with adoption may also be able to provide guidance.


Some states require that all children adopted in a foreign country be re-adopted or have their adoption validated in a local court. For some states, this will be necessary in order to receive your child’s United States birth certificate. Check with a local international adoption agency for your state’s requirements.

U.S. Passport

A U.S. Passport is another form of evidence of U.S. Citizenship, however it does expire and needs to be renewed. We recommend also obtaining a Certificate of Citizenship as it does not expire. You may find information on how to apply for a passport on the State Department’s website.

Social Security Number

Adoptive families may not be able to obtain a social security number for their child until after receiving the Certificate of Citizenship. Check the Social Security Administration website for details regarding what documentation will be needed in order to obtain your child’s SSN. It is important to note that if you obtained your child’s social security number prior to any re-adoption or official name changes here in the U.S., you may need to contact the Social Security Administration again so that they can appropriately update their records. In addition, if the SSN is obtained prior to a Certificate of Citizenship being issued, the adoptee’s citizenship status must be updated with the social security administration once citizenship is established.

Additional Resources

Learn more about Citizenship and post-adoption documentation. Post Adoption Documentation Citizenship for International Adoptees Child Citizenship Act of 2000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)