Physical Presence Requirements

One of the parents must have had resided in the United States prior to the child’s birth.

The U.S. citizen parent must establish a total of 5 years of physical presence in the U.S. (including 2 years after the age of 14) prior to the child’s birth.*

The U.S. citizen father must establish the blood relationship with clear and convincing evidence, must agree to financially support and acknowledge the child in writing under oath before the child turns 18 (section B of CRBA application), and must establish 5 years of physical presence in the U.S. (including 2 years after the age of 14) prior to the child’s birth.*

Child born on or before June 11, 2017
The U.S. citizen mother must establish one year (365 days) of continuous physical presence in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth.*

Child born on or after June 12, 2017
The U.S. citizen mother must establish 5 years of physical presence in the U.S. (including 2 years after the age of 14) prior to the child’s birth.*

* These requirements apply to most common cases. For details regarding the physical presence requirements and the law applicable to your specific situation, please read more on travel.state.gov.
If you have questions about the contents of this section or related citizenship laws you should contact a private attorney.

What is Physical Presence?

If you are an American citizen, and your child is born overseas, your child can also be an American citizen, through you.

You will have to show, however, that you can meet some basic legal requirements. Depending on your situation, you will have to show that you were actually in the United States for enough time to qualify to transmit U.S. citizenship to your child.

Physical presence means the actual time you were in the United States. It is an exact accounting. If you were a student in the United States for an academic year, and went abroad for the summer, you have only 9 months of physical presence, not 12. The only exceptions to being on U.S. soil day for day for a minimum of 5 years are if you were in active U.S. military or U.S. Government service, and sent overseas.

How can you show it?

There are several ways to prove your physical presence. Official records from the United States, such as school transcripts, university and advanced degree transcripts are very helpful. A simple letter from the school saying you were a student there is usually not enough, but can supplement other records. Employment records or your social security statement in concert with a letter from an employer are helpful too. If you have copies of your W2 tax forms from your employer, salary slips, and tax returns, they will help to establish your presence.

We are also open to less standard verifiable evidence. For example, records of time spent volunteering in the U.S., records from court cases and vaccination and doctor records all can be used to show time in the United States.

Remember, the burden of proof is on you. You must be able demonstrate to the consular officer’s satisfaction that you meet the physical presence.

These lists are not exhaustive and are meant to provide guidance only.  Some of these documents alone are not sufficient evidence of physical presence, but combined could help you establish the necessary physical presence in the U.S. as required by the INA.

 To establish residence in the U.S:

  • U.S. passport with place of birth in the U.S.
  • Marriage certificate with residence address in the U.S.
  • Property rental leases and payment receipts
  • School transcripts

To establish physical presence in the U.S.:

  • Elementary, middle school, high school, and/or college transcripts
  • Employment letter specifying dates of employment with supporting W2s
  • Service in the U.S. armed forces, employment with the U.S. government and/or employment with an international organization abroad (as defined in Section I of the International Organizations Immunities Act)
  • Time spent abroad as a dependent child of a U.S. citizen parent in one of the aforementioned categories as long as you can provide documentation (i.e. travel orders).
  • Your complete U.S. passport showing entry/exit stamps
  • If a dual national, your complete foreign passport showing enter/exit stamps

Examples of Documentation

Some examples of documentary evidence which may be considered to demonstrate that physical presence requirements have been met may include (but are not limited to):

  • Wage and tax statements (W-2) – only in conjunction with a letter from the employer
  • Academic transcripts
  • Employment records
  • Rental receipts
  • Records of honorable U.S. military service, employment with U.S. Government or certain intergovernmental international organizations; or as a dependent, unmarried child and member of the household of a parent in such service or employment (except where indicated).
  • U.S. passport stamps may be considered a part of the evidence submitted, but should not be the sole documentary evidence. Drivers’ licenses do not constitute evidence of physical presence.

If you have other children who have been issued with a Consular Report of Birth Abroad, this may be considered as supplemental evidence.