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Is my internationally adopted child automatically a citizen?

When a couple or individual chooses to pursue international adoption, they quickly find out that it is a surprisingly complex process. To make matters even more confusing, many people mistakenly believe that adopting a child automatically grants the child U.S. citizenship. This is not actually true.

When a child arrives in the United States after adoption, there are two primary issues you must address if you have not already begun to do so. First, the child needs a visa that allows him or her to legally enter the country. It is best to begin working on obtaining this visa well before the child arrives. There are a number of different visas available, so it is important to do your research.

Once the visa is secured, you can focus on your child's citizenship. This process is not often quick, and there are many, many variables that can draw it out. In general, it is wise to seek out the guidance of an attorney who can work on your behalf throughout the adoption process. This will ensure that your and your child's needs remain met while he or she advocates on your behalf in any legal matters.

An attorney is also an excellent resource for helping you understand the more granular requirements for obtaining citizenship for your child depending on factors like the child's country of origin. While you do not have to use an attorney in an international adoption, it almost always helps to streamline the process and provide much needed support on the logistical side of the process. This way, you can focus on preparing your home and community to welcome a new member of your family.

Source: Findlaw, "International Adoption Process: FAQs," accessed July 14, 2017

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