We’ve previously discussed the rising trend of of American emigrants choosing not to register their non-U.S.-born children as U.S. citizens. Children who don’t get registered and don’t hold a passport from a Visa Waiver Program country have to apply for a visa in order to visit their relatives in the United States.
Along those lines, over at Wikipedia’s Reference Desk an American in the Netherlands recently asked for advice about getting a U.S. visa for his daughter. His daughter is a Russian citizen & passport-holder and has Dutch permanent residence. However, he reports that he’s encountering some resistance from his local U.S. consulate:
I’ve been advised that someone (in this case a child, my daughter) who ‘has a claim to US citizenship’ – in this case because I am in fact an American citizen – is therefore ‘not eligible for visa to visit the US’. So I’m looking for some reference to what rules or law that might be? My daughter has a Russian passport, permanent Dutch residence, and we don’t plan to apply for American citizenship for her – in fact we’re in the process of obtaining Dutch citizenship for her, me and her mother. Can someone help me find a reference or rule or law that would explain why, if you could be an American citizen, but aren’t one, you would be denied the possibility of a visa. Thanks if you can help with a concrete reference or link. I’ve been googling but its an unusual circumstance.
He went on to clarify:
My advice was in fact the US Embassy. They received my daughter’s visa application, and sent me the message I quoted from above. My daughter is not a US citizen, and there isn’t a plan to be one. I’m trying to find good info with references to prepare for negotiating with the Embassy. I wouldn’t think that they can impose US citizenship on her. Thanks anyone who can point me to hard information.
The State Department’s own Foreign Affairs Manual in fact clarifies that the child can apply for a visitor visa rather than being forced into making a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. Specifically, 9 FAM 202.1-2(a), formerly 9 FAM 40.2 Note 1, says:
a. Processing Visa Applications for Aliens Who May Have a Claim to U.S. Citizenship:
(1) Nonimmigrant Visa Applicants: You may not issue a visa to an individual who has been determined to be a U.S. citizen. However, if a nonimmigrant visa applicant with a possible claim to U.S. citizenship is unable or unwilling to delay travel until he or she has been able to obtain documents to establish that status, as determined by the post’s citizenship and passport officer, you may presume that the applicant is an “alien” pursuing a nonimmigrant visa application. If you find the presumed alien eligible to receive the visa then you may issue the visa.
This subsection was last modified in November 2015. After the jump I discuss the history of updates to 9 FAM 202.1-2.