I am the father of a nearly 2-year old daughter. I was present for her birth in the Philippines. I am a US citizen by birth and lived most of my life in the US. I acknowledged paternity and the child uses my surname. My understanding of US regulations is that citizenship requires the mother's signature and approval. The mother (and her family) refuse to allow my daughter to become a US citizen unless I agree to large cash payments for the next 19 years.

I have an attorney in the Philippines that was successful in getting a visitation order. I have provided full support starting with prenatal care.

Have I missed something in reviewing the US regulations? Is there a way to get my child her US citizenship without the mother's consent? I think a passport and citizenship are usually acquired in the same transaction, is it possible to at least get her citizenship without the mother's consent?

  • Some clarification would be useful: Are you a US citizen? Please edit this information into the question. Welcome to the site! – gerrit Dec 6 at 10:28

It seems pretty clear from the following information from the US State Department that you or the child can declare US citizenship by paternity at any time before the child is 18. If you are the father and you are a US citizen, then child has US citizenship, they just need to have it recognized by the US government.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father – “New” Section 309(a)

A person born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 301(c) or 301(g) of the INA, as made applicable by the “new” Section 309(a) of the INA if:

1) A blood relationship between the person and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;

2) The father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the person’s birth;

3) The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the person reaches the age of 18 years, and

4) While the person is under the age of 18 years -- the person is legitimated under the law of his/her residence or domicile, the father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or the paternity of the person is established by adjudication of a competent court.

If you have questions about the contents of this section or related citizenship laws you should contact a private attorney.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Acquisition-US-Citizenship-Child-Born-Abroad.html

There is nothing here about consent of the mother but there is a clause requiring an agreement of financial support until the age of 18 - which presumably as the father, you would be happy to do. There is no stipulation as to the amount you have to pay, as long as what you have agreed to pay is reasonable by local standards I think you would be ok, but the mother certainly could make your life difficult if you are too stingy. You might go to mediation and agree to pay a reasonable monthly sum until the child is 18, which should satisfy this part of the stipulation.

So in any case, I would just be sure to have have: 1) a (legally valid) copy of the birth certificate that notes that you are the recognized father; 2) have a local court declare you to be the father; or, 3) take a paternity test. And agree to pay your child support payments as the father you claim to be. Finally, the State Department recommends you get an immigration attorney on the US-side use when you make the petition to have citizenship recognized. Doing all of this sooner than later will likely be easier for you as well as for the child.

  • +1 However there is no need whatsoever for a USA immigration attorney. This is easy peasy. His Filipino attorney should handle #3 concerning financial support, and then the OP can file. Agreement means the mother must consent, or ordered by court if the mother is being stubborn. – Paul of Osawatomie Dec 2 at 21:39
  • @PaulofOsawatomie The mother may be relatively happy to agree to financial support (there is no need for the father to mention that this will assist him in getting his child registered as American). – Martin Bonner Dec 3 at 10:45
  • 1
    @MartinBonner From the question, the mother is looking for a ransoms in financial support. Therein lies the problem. She’s not going to agree to less. No rational Filipino is going to object to their child acquiring American citizenship. Note acquiring American citizenship does not mean she’s being taken away to America. She’s objection purely because of money. – Paul of Osawatomie Dec 3 at 11:13
  • Thank you for all the information and suggestions. I'll consult with my Filipino attorney about how I could formalize #3. I was indeed thrown off by the links from the consulate page that grouped having her citizenship recognized and getting a passport. – Mark 2 days ago
  • But I know she will refuse to accompany me to Manila for the DNA test. My understanding is the US only accepts DNA from a particular hospital in Manila. Since it has been almost two years I am assuming the US will require a DNA test although I have ample supporting evidence such as our passports/visa when we were living in the UAE, pictures of us at delivery (I cut the cord), and receipts for all major expenses (she was born in a private hospital and has always had private pediatrician, etc.). – Mark 2 days ago

The child is automatically and involuntarily a US citizen when the conditions in the law are satisfied, and the mother's consent is not part of those conditions.

Assuming you are a US citizen at the time of the child's birth, and the mother was not a US national at the time of the child's birth, the physical presence requirement is that you must have been physically present, in any status, any time in your life prior to the child's birth, for a cumulative total of 5 years, including 2 years after you turned 14. If the child was born in wedlock, that is the only condition, and no other conditions need to be met. If the child was born out of wedlock, in addition to the physical presence requirement above, as RoboKaren's answer mentioned, certain additional things need to happen before the child turns 18:

  • the child is legitimated, acknowledged by you, or had paternity determined by a competent court, and
  • you made a written statement to support the child until he/she turns 18

I will assume the child was born out of wedlock for the rest of this answer. The easiest way to satisfy the above additional requirements for a child born out of wedlock to an US citizen father, is for the US citizen father to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for the child at a US consulate in the country the child was born in, before the child turns 18. As part of the CRBA application (DS-2029 item 28, or DS-5507 part II if the US citizen is not present), the US father of a child born out of wedlock will acknowledge paternity and agree to provide financial support, satisfying the requirements.

7 FAM 1443.1 says that CRBA applications can be made by either parent, and does not have a 2-parent signature requirement (unlike passports which require both parents to consent for children under 16). So you can get a CRBA to document the child's US citizenship, even if you will be unable to apply for a US passport for the child or take her out of the country. 7 FAM 1444.1(b) says that the minor may be required to appear at the officer's discretion, although I would think that that would be less likely since your daughter is so young; if the officer requests her appearance, that might be difficult if you don't have custody of her.

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