Aviana was born in Virginia USA and we, her parents, are British citizens. A little thing called Birthright citizenship in the US means that she can be a US citizen…or a British citizen, whichever she chooses, or both.
Seeing as our daughter is American I have recently embraced learning more about the USA than I have done in the past four years as a legal resident alien. It started off with the simple alphabet A to Zeeeeeeee. Then I progressed to the war of independence, sorry the revolutionary war or whatever you like to call it. And of course there is the US Constitution. It is here you can find out more about Birthright citizenship. Apparently the 14th amendment is a slightly controversial topic over here??!
In 1868, the U.S. ratified the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The first sentence reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The U.S. is a bit of an anomaly in the world when it comes to this issue. Most of the rest of the world, for example, gives people citizenship based on a concept known as jus sanguinis, literally “by right of blood.” The modern day controversy around Birthright citizenship comes to the issue of children of illegal immigrants being born in the US.
At the hospital we were given a letter detailing the recording of Aviana’s birth. We then had to apply for a birth certificate and pay something like $12 per copy (BTW it’s worth getting at least two copies because you are without one when you apply for their passport(s)). The funny thing is her social security number was the first thing to officiate Aviana’s existence in the US!!! Ahhhhh got to be able to pay those taxes right from birth!!! We discovered when we first moved here there is little you can do without a social security number. It’s like you don’t exist without one. Anyway, I digress!
The hardest part of applying for both her US and British passport was the photos! Both countries have slightly different rules. So after I had fed and changed Aviana there is a short window of time that she is an awake happy bunny, I dashed to our local Walgreens pharmacy to get her picture taken. Here they will lay your baby down on the counter with a white sheet background, get up on a step ladder and take a picture with a digital camera. They then have the software to edit out shadows and make the face fit into the right proportions. Walgreens can do the photos for both US and British passports. The size of photos is slightly different so we had to take the British photos home and guillotine them to the right size ourselves. But that wasn’t too hard.
Aviana was a doll for the man taking the photo. It took several goes to get her to look directly at the camera with her eyes open and arms not flailing! But the last go before she started screaming was the one! Incidentally when applying for a British passport the baby’s eyes do not have to be open.
Applying for the US passport was easy. We made an appointment at our post office and the documents were checked and sent off for a $25 fee. It was so quick and easy (we had all our docs in line and photos done already).
Applying for the British passport was a little more complicated. We had to get the photos of Aviana countersigned by someone of ‘public standing’. Who is also British. Fortunately I work with the military so that wasn’t a problem, it was just finding someone who has known us for two years or more. So you would be screwed if you lived in the US and didn’t know any other Brits in the local vicinity or had just arrived in country. Crazy.
I fly with Aviana back to the UK in mid march and we don’t have either passport yet. Hoping at least one of them arrives very soon otherwise I might be traveling to the Embassy in DC for an emergency one!
By the way, I should say that neither Chris or I can apply for a green card on the basis that we have an American daughter. It is not until she turns 21 that she could sponsor us for a green card on the basis of her nationality. A lot of people don’t know that. So as soon as my visa runs out and is no longer sponsored by my work we have 30 days to leave the country. Technically Aviana wouldn’t have to leave! It’s all so weird!
I’m not sure how long we will be living in the US for, but we want Aviana to experience both countries and someday she may choose to live in the other country we are not living in. Very strange to think about that!