My spouse was born in 1979 to a legal foreign student couple , they left the U.S when she was a few month old and never applied for her U.S citizenship.

now she wants to obtain her U.S citizenship and passport. the only thing she has is a valid birth certificate.

is it possible for her to get her U.S. passport just by going to united state embassy? or she need to go after a court challenge?

  • 2
    Ring the Embassy? They are more likely to be able to give a definitive answer. Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 12:13
  • 2
    Your spouse is already a US citizen. There would only be a need to involve a court if there were a dispute about the validity of the evidence of her citizenship.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


As Martin Bonner suggested, you or she need to check the local embassy. The U.S. Department of State has a page with some FAQs on applying for a passport from outside the United States.

I've cobbled together some information from other pages of the U.S. Department of State website.

A birth certificate is considered a primary identification IF it's issued by a city, county, or state. If it was issued by the hospital where she was born, it's a secondary identification and she would need further evidence.

She should double-check on whether she was issued a social security number. Sometimes you can apply while you're still in the hospital, but that might not have been true when she was born.

If she doesn't have a social security number, she will have to write a signed affidavit that states that she doesn't have one. Here's the wording from this FAQ:

“I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that the following is true and correct: I have never been issued a Social Security number by the Social Security Administration.”

She would also need a passport photo which has pretty stringent requirements. There's information on the same FAQ page, but further down (new requirement as of 1 November 2016--no glasses allowed).

  • Before the 1980s it was very unusual for anyone to get a social security number before they got their first job. The OP's spouse therefore almost certainly does not have a social security number.
    – phoog
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    @phoog Very true, but it helps to generalize the answer.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 14:59

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