Citizen Pip

We’re planning our first trip abroad this Autumn and have therefore been thinking about baby passports and suchlike. So far, so straightforward. Except that recently, a few people have been asking whether Pip, like his Mummy, will have dual British/American citizenship.

United Kingdom and USA miniature flags

For me to attain two passports as a baby was, I believe, fairly pain-free: my Mum was a bona fide born ‘n’ bred American herself, so even though I was born in the UK, they willingly granted me access to the shorter airport queue (flashback of our 3+1 formation when navigating through passport control: my sister and I with whichever parent whose country we were entering, while the other one had to join a different and often much longer line). Plus, I suspect they weren’t as strict in the 80s. However, I’m only a half breed, making Pip just a quarter, and in the post-9/11 era of eyeball-scanning (worth getting a passport just to avoid that!) I expect becoming a US citizen is now that bit harder.

I was discussing the situation with one of the American NCT girls, and she sent me a link to some US Embassy info that sets out the requirements for a new US passport. The bit relevant to Pip is as follows:

“Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non U.S. citizen parent on or after November 14, 1986: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child.”

I’m not certain I’ve spent a total of five years in the US: I’d be confident of having been there for three before the age of fourteen (my parents and I lived there for at least a couple of years before my sister was born), but I don’t think that a few weeks every summer plus some time living in Ohio and New York would add up to the total of two years. On the other hand, it doesn’t explain how you prove you’ve spent the time there! Do they expect you to dig out old airplane receipts or what? I don’t have any stamps in either passport. So if they take my word for it, I could say that 4 weeks x 10 years = 40 weeks, with other trips let’s call it a year, plus 6 months in Ohio and 7 months in New York and I’m there. Easy.

If that doesn’t work, it sounds like Pip may have a claim through Grandma!

“Expeditious Naturalization Through A Grandparent

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, a child under age 18 who has a U.S. citizen grandparent who meets the physical presence requirements may qualify for expeditious naturalization under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Although not entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth, the child can, through this procedure, become a U.S. citizen by naturalization without first having to take up residence in the United States. It is, however, necessary for the child to travel to the United States for the naturalization, and all applications and documentation must be submitted and approved beforehand. For information and application material for expeditious naturalization, please write to…”

All sounds like a bit of a faff – my eyes are glazing over just thinking about all the paperwork involved.

Realistically, I think the time I’d need to spend over there would be made up if we ever moved to the States – then a passport for Pip would probably be very useful indeed. At the moment, it would be more getting one because we can. We don’t have any immediate plans to visit the motherland – our potential trip to Australia next Spring is enough to think about at the moment – and fortunately for Pip his British number should get him everywhere he wants to go for now.

And one major disadvantage of being a US citizen is having to manually file a tax return. I get off relatively lightly as mine are included with my family’s so the accountant sorts it out (everyone has an accountant out there!) But surely Pip wouldn’t have to worry about that now, I hear you ask? Ha! Babies do indeed need to file paperwork, if they have an income. While we are not about to send Pip out to work Dickensian-style just yet, we may want to open some sort of savings account or other investments for him. According to the helpful Turbo Tax website, anything over $950 that is non-earned income needs to be declared!

For the moment, we’re going to leave it – it’s not like there’s any urgent rush to increase Pip’s passport collection. Fortunately, our little trip to Spain will be just fine with a UK passport. Speaking of which, I’m finding it tricky enough just figuring out how to apply for one let alone two!

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