Born to a US father but not registered at the consulate

A friend of ours has three children born in Canada whose father was a US citizen, but their births were not registered with the consulate. They have totally lost contact with their father (don’t even know if he is still alive). Can they still claim US citizenship? How?

Since this is a legal question, let’s move it to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator

Are you sure they’d want to? Have they been filing income tax returns with the United States all these years? Have they been filing FINCEN and FATCA reports for all their foreign accounts (including Canadian ones) all these years? The financial report penalties are especially steep.

Remember that they don’t become US citizens when they “claim” their citizenship, they have theoretically been citizens since birth, just flying underneath the radar.

Can they document the family relationship? Is the father on the birth certificate? Did he reside in the U.S. long enough to be able to transmit citizenship to his children, and can they document that? When were they born? Lots of missing pieces here.
The U.S. Embassy in London has a much better explanation of the process and requirements than most.

You don’t have to ‘claim’ citizenship, and anybody can ‘claim’ anything they want.

If the kids want an American passport, they go to an American Embassy or apply online. The documentation requirements don’t require that you know where your father is, just that you can document who he was.

Last time I looked, having an American father qualifies them for American citizenship, if the father meets the necessary residency requirements

I don’t know how well you would have to document the fathers residency. At one time, you would have just asserted his residency, with reasonable supporting evidence “my mother married him [date], his [age], he went back to US to avoid child maintenance [date]”.

But how do you prove the father was American, if you don’t know where he is and don’t have a copy of his US birth certificate?
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Lots of ways. Census records. Order his birth certificate. If he is dead, his kids should be able to get his records via FOIA. Military records if he is a vet. Passport records. His Canadian immigration records would likely include copies of his U.S. citizenship documents.

If they’ve lost track with him, and do not know if he’s dead, do they have standing to ask for copies of his birth certificate and other personal records? They’re not executors of the estate, and normally third parties don’t have the right to access private records.

Probably not, but perhaps they could try to figure out whether he’s dead first. Try the Social Security Death Index.

Also, are they really sure they were never registered at the Consulate? Have they requested copies of any records the U.S. Government may have about them?

Depending of where and when the child was born, the Statement of Live Birth might include the particulars of the place of birth of the father of the child.

But not the father’s citizenship, unless I’m missing something?
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If the certificate of live birth has the father’s place of birth being in the USA, then the father likely would be an American citizen (14th Amendment).

I do not know how much weight would be given to the statement that the father certified to be true.

Even if accepted as being sufficient to establish the citizenship of the father, there still would be high hurdles for the child to jump through: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-legal-considerations/us-citizenship/Acquisition-US-Citizenship-Child-Born-Abroad.html .

The amount of hassle will vary greatly, but I think most or all states allow people to access their parents’ birth certificates.

If the father was born in the U.S., unless he was the child of a foreign diplomat, then he’s a U.S. citizen.

Hey, you might also try finding his voter registration record. I think those are public.

There are tons of ways to get proof pf physical presence in the U.S. My college roommate just did this (her kids were born abroad). All it took were copies of her high school and college transcripts.

Census records, employment records, work records - just about anything will work for that purpose.

Thanks all. I have no idea if the kids are interested, although one of them lived in the US for years, but his wife is American. The thing about FATCA is daunting. Believe me, I know. The father was born in the US and stayed long enough to finish medical school incidentally, although documenting that could be difficult.

Was he licensed in he U.S.? Documenting the years he held a U.S. medical license could be pretty straightforward.

I think documenting his time in school should be straightforward as well.