Birth in the United States

A person who is born in the United States is a US citizen unless the parent is a foreign diplomatic officer on assignment in the United States. The reason such children are not considered citizens is because the parents are not subject to the jurisdiction of US law. There are several categories of diplomats who fall into this category, including ambassadors, ministers, charges d’affiaires, counselors, secretaries and attaches of embassies and legation, and certain individuals assigned to the UN or Organization of American States. It is never too late to claim US citizenship based on birth; one either is or is not a citizen. In fact, sometimes a consular officer will withhold action on a visa application if it is believed that the person applying may have a claim to US citizenship.

How to obtain a visa to give birth in the United States

Because of the allure of US citizenship, many women outside the US seek to travel to the US to give birth. This has given rise to a cottage industry: birth tourism. Consular rules and regulations do not prohibit the issuance of tourist visas to women traveling to the US to give birth. In fact, the rules explicitly allow for the issuance of a tourist visa for health or medical purposes. Nevertheless, many consular officers are reluctant to issue visas to pregnant women seeking to give birth in the US primarily because of their personal/political/philosophical views. In any event, when applying for a visa, the woman must be able to show strong ties to her home country and the financial wherewithal to pay all medical bills in the US without relying on public assistance.

Rights of Parents of US Citizens

Parents of US citizen children do not have any special status or future assurance of obtaining a US visa. Many believe that when a parent has a US citizen child, the parents are guaranteed a US visa. This is a myth. Having a US citizen child does not guarantee that a US visa will be issued in the future even for compelling reasons such as accompanying a US citizen child to attend school in the US or receive medical treatment in the US. In fact, having a US citizen child can be a detriment to issuance of a visa in the future. The consular officer might decide that the mother spent substantial time in the US giving birth and after birth, needs to reestablish ties to her home country before receiving another visa. If the mother did rely on public assistance in giving birth in the US, a consular officer may withhold issuance of another visa until that bill is paid. In the worst case, if the mother lied to the consular officer about the purpose of her previous visit, indicating in the visa application form that she planned to visit the US for a couple of weeks when she planned to give birth, she may even be subject to a permanent bar to entering the United States for a material misrepresentation.

Obtaining the US Passport

After giving birth, a birth certificate will be issued, and with that birth certificate, a US passport application can be submitted. Once the passport is issued, the child can travel outside the US. If he lives outside the US, he can renew the passport when it expires at the nearest US consulate.

Petitioning for Relatives

Only when the child turns 21 can he sponsor his parent or siblings to immigrate to the United States, and only if he is domiciled in the United States (with few exceptions). He can transmit US citizenship to his child at birth if he has spent at least five years in the US physically present, two of which after the age of 14. Otherwise, the child is eligible for a green card.

If the US citizen lives in a foreign country where USCIS maintains a field office, he may be able to file for expedited immigrant visas for his family members: spouse, child, and parents.