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I, a US citizen, married my wife, from EU country (not Britain), in the US. We live in the US while my wife finishes school (2-3 years) on an F1 visa and then plan to move to back to the EU. My wife will give birth to our child in the US, but I would like to not register my child as a US citizen.

US citizenship has a lot of benefits, but those come with added responsibility. I want that to be my child's choice.

Can I choose to not register my child as a US citizen? Can I register them with an 18yoa deadline for them to choose citizenship?

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 4:50
  • The only "registration" that would occur is getting a US birth certificate. Having a US birth certificate automagically makes one a US citizen.
    – MaxW
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 18:59
  • @MaxW Having a US birth certificate does not always make one a US citizen: washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/…
    – Just a guy
    Commented Nov 29, 2019 at 20:37

3 Answers 3

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Can I choose to not register my child as a US citizen?

No. Your child will be a US citizen regardless of whether you register anything, and (unless you have spent less than 5 years in the US, or less than 2 years after you turned 14) regardless of the place of birth, because (in that case) even if the child is born outside the US he or she will be a US citizen under 8 USC 1401(g).

Can I register them with an 18yoa deadline for them to choose citizenship?

No. Your child probably (depending on your wife's citizenship, and assuming birth in the US) will be a dual citizen from birth without the need or the ability to choose. On turning 18, the child will be able to renounce either citizenship, but will not be required to renounce US citizenship and will probably not be required to renounce the other citizenship either.

(I am not familiar with all EU countries' citizenship laws, so the law of that country might have a requirement to choose, but there is no such requirement in the countries whose laws I am familiar with. If the other country is the Netherlands, the child will risk losing Dutch citizenship on turning 28 unless he or she takes steps to avoid that or unless the law changes.)

As pointed out in a comment on Putvi's answer, if you successfully avoid letting the US know about your child's birth, you would be in the awkward position of needing to get a visa for the child if you ever want the child to leave and reenter the country. Otherwise, the child would be an illegal alien in the eyes of the US (this assumes you've managed to hide the child's place of birth). There is no process available to get visas in the US for (non-diplomatic) children born in the US, of course, because such children are citizens of the US.

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    @JJJ that's one way for a dual national to avoid losing Dutch citizenship. There are others.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 7:43
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    I would also point out for the OP's knowledge how problematic a system that would be that required parent's proaction to "register" someone as a citizen. Think about the problems that could be caused if citizenship wasn't automatic, if your parents (a) just didn't understand; (b) had malicious intent; leaving you stateless. Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 15:01
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    @AzorAhai ...how problematic a system that would be that required parent's proaction to "register" someone as a citizen. I know how problematic such a system would be. In the UK, children born here and who have lived here for 10 years since their birth but have non-British parents/parents who didn't have a permanent right to reside at the time of the birth have a legal right to register as British. All they need to do is apply and pay the fee... the £1012 fee! Recent post: theguardian.com/politics/2019/nov/26/…
    – kiradotee
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 16:56
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    @kiradotee even if they are otherwise stateless, I suppose (though I doubt many such children actually are stateless).
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 17:33
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    @ouflak I answer "no" because there is no choice. There is no US citizenship registry for natural-born US citizens, so it is not possible to choose whether to register. Citizenship is conferred automatically by the circumstances of birth, so it is not possible to choose whether the child will be a citizen. The only option, as impractical as it is, is subterfuge. I do not understand why you would answer "yes"; can you elaborate?
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 17:44
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You don't really register if you are born here. If you are born in the U.S. you are a citizen.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 4:51
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US citizenship is automatic. Documentation is also automatic if you birth inside the system.

Birthing outside the system in order to not create documents won't work. You won't be allowed to travel without documents. So there would be no way to transport the child elsewhere in order to coin citizenship there, except in the mother's womb. And even that would not prevent automatic US citizenship if a parent is an active US citizen.

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  • It amuses me that even if you're a dual citizen by birth and choose to conceal that fact from the US. When you apply for a US visa using non-US passport and they see your place of birth being the US ... well, hello US citizenship ha!
    – kiradotee
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 13:08
  • Who says the parents want to travel? They will however at some point presumably want the child to attend school (if they don't home-school), put the child on an insurance plan (if they can afford it), or do any of the many other things that will require a birth certificate at some point.
    – ouflak
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 15:11
  • "You won't be allowed to travel without documents": the child could get documents from the other country of citizenship, although most countries will want to see the US birth certificate. It might be possible to get around that requirement in some countries, though. It's a supremely bad idea, of course, since it would surely create more hardship for the child than US citizenship would.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 17:47
  • @ouflak the question says that. My answer must be in the context of the question. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 17:49
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    @Harper-ReinstateMonica, I see that now. Like your user name.
    – ouflak
    Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 17:50

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