I am not an expert by any means, but it does make sense that some cases may take longer due to the background checks which are needed to be performed. If your loved one is from a country that traditionally has been a safe-harbor for terrorists, doesn't it make sense that the background check can take longer? Or if your spouse is from a country that is has been found to have many fraudulent marriage with USC's in the past, perhaps some more scrutiny is needed. Thoughts/ideas are greatly appreciated.
I have some silly questions. I read that many people send their evidence of relationship with the packet 3, such as photos, tickets etc. How many of you did it that way? Is it acceptable from the Embassies?
I prepared 2 folders with transparent folder to send my papers. Or should I buy an acco fastener? Or heavy clip. I'm confused.
My wife and I went through a great ordeal getting our child citizenship and in the end it worked out. Since I had numerous questions I couldn't find an answer to in our situation, we decided to write our experience and hope this will help others. Here are the questions and major issues we encountered:
Why and how our Child Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) was denied at the US Consulate
How our child was legally able to enter the US with a baby transportation letter, receives a green card and the process at the airport.
Receiving US Citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 and a US Passport
Applying for a Social Security Number using the new US Passport but without a US birth certificate, and finally
Did our child loose her foreign citizenship through be becoming a US Citizen
Still deciding to file N-600 with USCIS
---But first, our Background:--
I'm a US Citizen by birth (you can be a naturalized citizen, too. This will not make a difference for the further process) and my wife is a foreign national with a 10 year unconditional green card. We went abroad while she was pregnant to visit her family. While being there, my wife had complications and was hospitalized for a couple days. Because of this, the doctors advised against traveling for her, since the risk was too big of loosing the baby. This is how a 10 day trip turned into 10 months. Since I'm a freelance programmer I had the luxury of conducting my business from abroad and it wasn't a big deal for us. We decided to play it safe and stay. Everything went well and our child was born healthy and without any further complications. We decided to stay a couple of weeks longer so my wife could recover from child birth related injuries and not to put too much stress on the baby with an intercontinental flight.
--Child Report of Birth Abroad and it's denial--
This is when we decided to start a CRBA application with the local US Consulate. We wanted to get US Citizenship for our child and a US Passport to return home. We did start this process two weeks after she was born, since we figured it would take some time to process. But we weren't prepared for this. To be able to transfer your citizenship your child, you have to
be a US Citizen
spent at least 5 years in the US, 2 of which have to be after your 14 birthday
The child has to be under 18
If the child was born out of wedlock or the US Citizen parent is deceased, or this is for an adopted child there are more restrictions or a total different process. For further information please on the CRBA or the issues mentioned before, please go to your local US Embassy website since our experience is for a biological child born in wedlock.
The CRBA process is also described in numerous forums, so I will keep it short: I had to prove my physical presence in the US. I did spend a lot of time as a child and teenager abroad through my parents work. I brought school records, doctors bills, pay stubs from my parents while employed in the US, business documents of my company, tax returns, my wives green card process which was done in the US(!) - but - all this and much more wasn't enough to satisfy the consular officer. We were dumbstruck by how we were treated and that the amount of evidence didn't accumulate to 5+ years (for them). Our application was denied! If you do this process, be sure to show them at least 10+ years of evidence, since they bump off a certain amount of months for each year.
So what now? My wife and I, legally allowed to live and work in the US, and our 8 week old daughter should stay behind??? I thought I couldn't be the only one in this situation, but after going through google and visa forums I kind of had the feeling we were. But I did find this:
--Greencard for my daughter through my wife--
Ok, so it does happen a lot. People, intentionaly or not, are green card holders and have their children abroad. As described above, in our case this was due to a medical condition. So what now? I did some research and finally contacted Customs And Border Protections (CBP) foreign office at the Embassy. I was lucky to get a quick and competent answer:
If you are the MOTHER and a green card holder AND
you have been less than a year abroad (!!! really important !!!)
and you are taking your baby on the first trip back to the US (!!! also very important, if out of any reason you - the green card holder - already traveled to the US once without your child, this what comes next won't work !!!)
The Embassy/US Consulate issues you a baby transportation letter (it's actually a visa in your baby's foreign passport), also known as "NA-3 (BABY)". We went to the consulate, got the baby transportation letter (took about two hours and can be done on the same day you contact them) and booked a flight for the next week. That was it, and the best part is: Our child AUTOMATICALLY receives a green card upon entering the US. No fees, no wait, no application with USCIS while outside, just automatic. Anyone who dealt with USCIS before knows, things can't be that simple, but in this case its pretty straight forward.
Now if you are more than a year abroad, you will basically have to go through the entire green card process for yourself AND your child again. So if you are 360 days outside the US, and you can fly, BUY A TICKET, GET THE TRANSPORTATION LETTER AND GET ON THE PLANE ASAP. Otherwise you might spend weeks, months or even years until you get back and receive another approved green card (+ the $1000's in fees the application will cost you, again). I don't know how DHS determines how long you've been outside for more then a year, but IMHO it's not worth the risk and small children do pretty good on a flight.
Also the transportation letter is confirmation of you being in legal status. So if you're cutting time close, this letter will also be proof that you are eligible to return to the US.
--Processing our child at the airport--
So we landed at the Airport in the US and this is where I didn't find anything on the net or forums what happens next.
You must bring along (so make sure you get this before you fly).
The original foreign birth certificate. - Make sure the father and mother are listed in it. If not, get an "international certificate of birth" at the local civil registry office in the country of birth
Translation of the foreign birth certificate. - We had it translated by a certified and public sworn translator. It cost us around $50 but is worth it. This way you can avoid problems of the translation not being legitimate. Oddly USCIS doesn't require a certified translation, BUT CBP, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Passport Agency at the Department of State (DOS) do!
We went to an immigration counter and we just showed the immigration officer our passports and the page with the baby transportation letter. He then took us to Secondary Inspection. Don't be worried. This is the area where they process foreigners who don't seem legit to enter the US. But you are there just to wait, nothing more. We did bring other documents (doctors note, ultrasound pics, us tax returns) to support our case, but these were never required by CBP at the airport. We only had to handover the documents and it took about two hours. Afterwards the officer handed us all documents back + a copy of the I-181 which is the proof that the green card was created (this is what you take to the passport agency later, too). CHECK THIS THROUGHLY so that there are no mistake. It will be a real hassle to change anything later + will delay the other parts that follow. They placed a stamp over the NA-3 in the passport and wrote "Permres" in there. That's it. Our child was now a legal permanent resident of the United States and had a (temporary) green card. The real green card comes a couple weeks later in the mail. But it doesn't change that she is a I-551 (green card) holder.
Now comes the real ironic part, that we don't understand why the consulate didn't just grant the CRBA in the first place:
--Automatic Citizenship through the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA)--
Because our baby entered the US with a green card AND I am a US Citizen the CCA came into place. This means our child was a legal permanent resident in one second BUT became a US Citizen by law in the next second! Puff, Magic, just like that. It took me some time for me to understand the CCA (before we departed back to the US) and even an immigration lawyer I contacted wasn't familiar with this process. USCIS calls this "Derivative Citizenship". Anyway, it works the same way with people who have green cards, naturalize as US Citizens and have children under 18. The moment the parent naturalizes these children with green cards become US Citizens by law. They do not need to apply sepperatly for naturalization. IMHO this law was probably the only good thing George Bush did during his presidency (please no political discussions, this is just my opinion .
So now our child is finally a US Citizen. But of course for her later life she needs proof and who knows if laws change. So the best way to proof your US Citizenship is a US Passport. This is why we applied for it asap.
--Applying for a US Passport under the CCA--
Now, for applying for a US Passport under the CCA you can go to any passport processing location like your local Post Office. If you live in a city like San Francisco or Boston the person processing your application will likely be familiar with the CCA and required documents. If you live in a small town in the square states with hardly any immigrants you will get an evil look and no passport I would recommend going to one of the DOS Passport agencies (especially if you live in one of the cities where these are located). These agencies deal with children, passports and the CCA on a daily basis. This also gave us the advantage of picking up the passport two days later.
At the passport agency we (both parents!) had to appear with our baby. We needed all the documents listed on the link below. The DOS agent was very friendly and knew exactly what to do. They keep all the documents for scanning and filing with the application. Now the DOS recognized our child as a US Citizen and it was official!!! Two days later we picked up the passport with all documents and that was it.
--Applying for a Social Security Number with a US Passport and a foreign birth certificate--
I went to my local SSA and brought all documents with me. The agent had no clue what I wanted.
SSAgent: "Only U.S. Citizens can apply for a SSN"
Me: "My child is a U.S. Citizen. You have her US Passport in your hands to prove it."
SSAgent: "Right… But she doesn't have a US birth certificate"
Me: (Long Pause) "And?"
SSAgent: "She needs one, otherwise I can't process the application."
Me: "No she doesn't. Even the http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber website says she doesn't need one."
SSAgent: "That can't be. I never heard of this. You will need to get her a US birth certificate first"
Me: (Long Pause - since you can't get a US birth certificate if you're not a US Citizen by birth!!!) "Ok. Let's say someone naturalizes and becomes a citizen. They don't have a US birth certificates either. Can't they get a SSN?"
SSAgent: "Right… I will have to check with my supervisor."
Duh! The law which regulates these things has only been in effect for over 12 years!!! Thankfully the supervisor was able to sort this out (after reading the info on the ssa.gov website) and we got the SSN in the mail about 10 days later.
--Did our child loose her foreign citizenship through be becoming a US Citizen?--
Short answer (in our case): NO!
This case varies by each country and has nothing to do with US law. The US can't take away your foreign citizenship, only the country where you (or your child) is originally from can revoke/cancel your foreign citizenship. In our case German law states: If by APPLICATION one shall receive a foreign (in our case, US) citizenship, this leads to loss of German citizenship. Here is the clue: Our daughter didn't apply for US Citizenship, she became a citizen by operation of law ("Derivative Citizenship"). In this case our daughter is a dual citizen. Each country is different so you should check the laws of your country individually.
-- Certificate of Citizenship through USCIS (N-600) --
Another way for proof of citizenship is a Certificate of Citizenship (COC) through USCIS. I'm still deciding to file this form with USCIS since my child would get a nice official document ending the green card process with USCIS AND this agency "officially recognizing" her citizenship. BUT the reason NOT do it is simple: By law our child is a US Citizen and even the DOS website writes she doesn't need a COC. Her US Passport is proof of her citizenship. AND USCIS will charge you $600+ for just filing the N-600 form + you might have to travel pretty far if a USCIS office won't be able to conduct a short interview in your area (even though USCIS writes you might not even have an interview).
At the same time I applied for a Passport card for her. The cost was only $15 extra and we keep it in a safe place. This way she has backup proof of citizenship if she should ever loses her passport.
I just received my EAD in the mail on May 18th (approval was May 10) and would now like to go to the Social Security Office asap to get my name changed on my SSN (it is still in my maiden name, and I'd like to change it to my married name). Can anyone advise me how long it usually takes until my status has been updated in the SAVE database? I would hate going to the SS Office (which is a 50 minute drive) and have them tell me that my status has not been updated yet.
Also, if I apply for a job (I am currently in the process of writing applications) and the name on my SSN does not match the name on my EAD, what potential problems may I run into? Would the E-Verify system show me as not allowed to work? I tried the self-check, but it does not work for me.