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Is it possible for a parent to apply for naturalization in the U.S. (using form N-400), without making their children under 18 years old also citizens?

For example, the parent might not want the children to become U.S. citizens as that would cause them to be liable for tax in the U.S. for the rest of their lives, even though they will be living somewhere else.

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Is it possible for a parent to apply for naturalization in the U.S. (using form N-400), without making their children under 18 years old also citizens?

No. The process for US permanent residents, under 18, living in the US in the legal and physical custody of a US citizen (biological or adoptive) parent, to become US citizens under INA 320 is automatic and involuntary as soon as all the conditions are simultaneously met. Neither the parents nor the child can choose for the child to not become a citizen if the conditions are met. The only way to prevent it from happening is to prevent all the conditions from being met simultaneously, e.g. delay the parent's naturalization (i.e. taking of the oath) until after the child turns 18, have the child relinquish US permanent resident status, have the child not reside in the US, or have the parent give up custody of the child, etc.

For example, the parent might not want the children to become U.S. citizens as that would cause them to be liable for tax in the U.S. for the rest of their lives, even though they will be living somewhere else.

In order for a child to automatically become a US citizen under INA 320, they must already be a US permanent resident, and if they are a US permanent resident, they are already subject to US tax on their worldwide income no matter where they live, unless and until they file I-407 to relinquish their permanent residency. So in this sense, whether the child becomes a US citizen or not doesn't make a difference, except that renouncing US citizenship is more expensive than relinquishing permanent residency.

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Parents cannot acquire U.S. nationality without also passing it along to their dependent children. When a parent naturalizes, their children under 18 who reside in the U.S. automatically gain U.S. citizenship.

Any U.S. citizen can renounce American citizenship once they have turned 18. U.S. tax obligations end for overseas residents after U.S. citizenship is renounced. Renouncing U.S. citizenship is a serious decision that is usually irreversible.

American citizens living overseas must declare their worldwide income to the U.S. government, but they (usually) don't pay double tax due to various exemptions. However, filing taxes as an overseas U.S. citizen is complicated, so many folks hire specialized accountants.

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