Under US law, a person born outside the United States to an American parent and a foreign parent in wedlock acquires US citizenship at birth if, prior to birth, the American parent was physically present in the US or its outlying possessions for at least five years, two of which are after the age of 14.
My husband meets this physical presence requirement, and so thanks to him, our child is also a US citizen. To make it official, we applied for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA) and US passport for our child at the US Embassy in Manila.
The process was surprisingly quick; we received our child’s CRBA and passport less than a month after mailing in our application. My tips for a smooth process:
- Fill up all forms correctly
- Ensure all documents are complete
- Present a lot of evidence
- Both parents are present during the interview
We did all of the above and were approved immediately. On the other hand, we saw several families who were sent home during pre-screening because of incomplete requirements or insufficient evidence. One family, who came without the US citizen parent, was even told to undergo DNA testing.
1. Prepare the requirements
Click here to download the latest checklist (updated April 2018). Prepare one (1) photocopy each of all documents and completed forms. Do not mail the original documents.
- Passport photos. Submit three (3) identical pictures of the child and two (2) of each parent. Click here for photo guidelines and samples.
- Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (Form DS-2029). Click here to download. It is a fillable PDF file, so type in your answers before printing it on US Letter (8.5″ x 11″) paper. Do not sign. Ensure that you provide a working email address, as the appointment letter will be sent there. Also include a local Philippine telephone number.
- Certificate of Live Birth of applicant issued by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). You can easily get a copy online from e-Census (soon to be known as PSASerbilis). Don’t bother to apply if the PSA copy is not yet available; the copy from the Local Civil Registry Office (LCRO) will not suffice.
- Growing-up photos of applicant. The more pictures, the better. It is best to submit photos of the child together with both parents, spanning from birth to the present. Personally we printed 20 pictures, each labeled with the date and our child’s age on that date.
- Evidence of American parent’s citizenship. The US citizen parent may present any one (1) of the following:
- US passport
- US birth certificate
- CRBA (Form FS-240)
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Certificate of Naturalization
- Identification document of Filipino parent. The Filipino parent may present his/her passport. If s/he has no passport, s/he must present two (2) other digitized government-issued IDs.
- Evidence of American parent’s physical presence in the US. This is important; the application will be denied if the US citizen parent cannot conclusively demonstrate that s/he fulfills the residence requirement. Present as much hard evidence as possible, including old passports, school transcripts, Form W-2s, and medical treatment records. Military members or veterans can also submit a Statement of Service or Report of Separation (DD Form 214). Time abroad counts towards residency only if it was:
- as a member of the US armed forces in honorable status
- as an employee of the US government or other qualifying organizations
- as a dependent unmarried child of any of the above
- Certificate of Marriage of parents issued by the PSA. You can easily get a copy online from e-Census (soon to be known as PSASerbilis). The copy from the LCRO will not suffice.
- Evidence of mother’s pregnancy. The more evidence, the better. Personally we presented the following:
- ultrasound reports with images (sonograms)
- 20 pictures of myself while pregnant, each labeled with the date and location
- hospital billing statements and receipts
- hospital certification of confinement for myself and our child
- Evidence of parents being in the same location at the time of conception. We presented boarding passes along with our passports.
- Evidence of parents’ relationship prior to conception. The more evidence, the better. Personally we submitted 20 pictures of the two of us together, spanning from the start of our relationship to just before our child was conceived, including several from our civil wedding. My husband and I like to travel, so we presented more boarding passes along with our old passports.
- Application for a US Passport (Form DS-11). Click here to fill out the form online. Download and print the resulting PDF file on US Letter paper, but do not sign.
- Declaration of No Social Security Number (SSN). Click here to download (embedded below). SSN is a required field in Form DS-11. Obviously our child doesn’t have one yet, so we entered all zeros in the field as instructed and submitted this signed declaration.
2. Send the application
Arrange the photocopies of the requirements in the above order and mail, along with the signed checklist, via courier to the following address:
EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
CITIZENSHIP AND PASSPORT UNIT
AMERICAN CITIZEN SERVICES
1201 ROXAS BOULEVARD
3. Wait for the appointment email
A few days after we sent the package, we received the appointment letter in the email address we indicated in Form DS-2029.
4. Prepare for the interview
A few tips:
- Ensure all original forms and documents are complete. Arrange them in the same order as the checklist, then place inside a waterproof plastic zip envelope for protection.
- Arrive in Manila at least a day before and check in at a nearby hotel. This is highly recommended for those coming from outside Metro Manila, in order to avoid missing the interview due to flight delays and/or traffic jams. We recommend staying at City Garden Suites, a good mid-price hotel within short walking distance from the embassy. Click here for other accommodation options near the embassy.
- Leave electronic devices behind. Cellphones and the like are not allowed inside the embassy.
- Bring full payment of CRBA, passport, and delivery fees. The CRBA application fee is USD $100. Click here for the latest schedule of passport fees (updated February 2018). The embassy cashier accepts either cash (US dollars or Philippine pesos) or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, or Diners Club International). Delivery is handled by a third-party courier, AIR21, which accepts cash only.
5. Go to the embassy
Be sure to arrive at the embassy with your child 30 minutes before your appointment time. There will be a throng of US visa applicants queueing outside, but CRBA applicants do not need to fall in line; simply go straight to the entrance for US citizens.
Once inside, go to American Citizen Services (ACS) on the second floor. Pay the CRBA and passport fees at the cashier, then wait for your turn. When your child’s name is called, proceed to the correct counter window for pre-screening.
Present all your original forms and documents. If everything is in order, you will proceed to the final interview with the approving consular officer. While waiting for the interview, you can pay the delivery fees at the AIR21 booth on the same floor.
Our final interview was quick and pleasant, as most of the probing questions were already asked during pre-screening. We signed the CRBA and passport application forms in front of the consular officer, who then returned our original documents. Finally, the officer confirmed that our child is a US citizen, and has been one since birth. We said our goodbyes, left the embassy, and that’s it. Our child’s CRBA was delivered to our address two weeks later. The passport arrived shortly after.