In these days and age, the best travel document in your hands is a U.S. passport. Hence, the sense of urgency among immigrants to become U.S citizens. International travel and the globalization drumbeat, among others, prompt members of the immigrant community to acquire the proper documentation to facilitate their entry and exit to and from the United States.

Also, there is a growing trend among young people to pursue college education in other countries or simply to explore. By law, an immigrant with a green card cannot stay out of the country longer than 365 days. A violation of this law would cause the loss of lawful permanent residency status.

In most countries, collegiate studies usually last four years. If the student is not a citizen, a re-entry permit which allows a two-year stay outside of the U.S. is usually applied for. If one can apply to become a U.S. citizen or is already a citizen by law, it is a no-brainer.

On Oct. 30, 2000, then President Bill Clinton signed into law the “Child Citizenship Act of 2000” (CCA) which became effective on Feb. 27, 2001 (incorporated as §320 {INA}). The CCA makes it possible for immigrant children under 18 years old whose parents are U.S. citizens to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon fulfillment of the following conditions: (A) at least one parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization; (b) the child is under 18 years old; and (c) the child resides with the U.S. citizen parent under her/his legal and physical custody and pursuant to a lawful permanent resident status. It does not matter that the child’s birth was prior to the parent’s naturalization as long as the child enters the U.S. before turning 18.

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The child may be legitimate or illegitimate as long as the parent-child relationship can be solidly established. This rule covers adopted children as well.

CCA also provides for children of U.S. citizens who are petitioned and enter the U.S. before they turn 18 years old. They are automatically U. S. citizens by operation of law. “Automatic” means they do not have to undergo a procedure such as naturalization (that requires waiting for five-year residency after entry or reaching the age of 18, whichever comes later) in order to become U.S. citizens. All they need is to be documented as U.S. citizens.

These “lucky’ ones can do either or both of these: (1) apply for a certificate of citizenship at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); and/or (2) apply for a U.S. passport at the Passport Services of the U.S. Department of State. Applying for a certificate of citizenship is more tedious and costly. The easier and economical route is to apply for a U.S. passport.

Lately however, it has not been easy to obtain a U.S. passport based on the automatic citizenship law for children (under 18) of U.S. citizens. The Passport Service Office of the Department of State is requiring more documentation to prove that an applicant is qualified to be a U.S. citizen.

Submission of the parent’s original copy of the certificate of naturalization and the applicant’s actual green card is not enough. Failure to submit the required documentation within three months will cause the denial of the passport application.

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In the meantime, one takes the risk of losing original documents in the mail or not returned properly. The best proof to expedite issuance of a passport is the original applicant’s certificate of citizenship. But this certificate has yet to be applied for at DHS (USCIS). Processing time now is approximately 8-9 months depending on where the applicant resides.

Have patience though because it is the guaranteed way to go at a time when policies are issued through tweets.