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Frequently Asked Questions about the Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
May 12, 2023

(also available as a pdf )

NOTE: These FAQs are about the CRBA generally. There are separate FAQs about the eCRBA process.

  1. What is a CRBA?

A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth if certain requirements are met. A CRBA is a document that certifies a child acquired U.S. citizenship at birth. For more information on specific requirements, read INA 301 and INA 309.

  1. What are the requirements for a CRBA?

To qualify for a CRBA, there must be a biological relationship between the U.S. citizen parent and the child. At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen at the time the child was born. The parents also need to meet either residency or physical presence requirements, depending on which part of the law the case falls under. For most cases in Nigeria, parents must satisfy physical presence requirements. This means the U.S. citizen parent must have a total of at least 5 years of physical presence in the United States, at least 2 of which must be after the age of 14. The physical presence does not need to be consecutive, and it can be either before or after the parent became a U.S. citizen. However, the physical presence is counted to the day, and it must occur prior to the child’s date of birth. The applicant must provide evidence to support each of these requirements of the law. The burden of proof is on the applicant.

  1. How long does the CRBA process take?

The length of time to process a CRBA depends on several factors. The first factor is the demand for the service, which can extend wait times. The second factor is the preparedness of the applicant. The third factor can be the occasional need for administrative processing, including possible DNA testing. In order to best serve our applicants, we ask that you do not request an appointment until you have collected all the required evidence. Oftentimes, parents have not fully researched the requirements for the CRBA and are surprised at the interview when they are asked for additional information. They are then requested to reschedule an appointment. This is not efficient for the applicant or the consular officer and prolongs the CRBA process. To avoid delays in processing, carefully review all the requirements and suggested forms of evidence prior to your interview. Once an application is approved, it can take up to 4 weeks to receive the CRBA and Passport. 

  1. Who needs to appear at the appointment?

The child and at least one parent should be present for the interview. If the child is also applying for a passport, the physical appearance of the child at the interview cannot be waived. It is preferable to have both parents appear at the appointment, but not required. If, for example, a U.S. citizen parent is in the United States, a non-U.S. citizen parent may appear for the appointment with the child. The U.S. citizen parent would need to sign the DS-2029, DS-5507, and DS-3053 correctly, as noted above. The non-U.S. citizen parent must bring the properly signed forms to the appointment along with all other required documents.

  1. What if we used a surrogate?

Please review our information on surrogacy in Nigeria carefully, as parents often are not prepared for the complications that can arise with surrogacy in Nigeria. In most cases, the surrogate will also need to appear at the CRBA interview, with government issued ID, and sign a consent form for the issuance of a passport. You should also make sure to bring the surrogacy contract to the appointment.

  1. What documents do I need to submit at my appointment?

Bring all the documents that pertain to your case with you to your appointment. You can review a CRBA checklist here  for a list of required documents.

  1. How do I change or cancel my appointment?

Due to limited appointment availability, it will be difficult to reschedule an appointment once scheduled. Therefore, we encourage you to attend the appointment as scheduled. If you absolutely must reschedule the appointment, we will consider the request, but you may experience a long delay.

  1. How much does the CRBA cost?

The CRBA application costs $100. A passport for a minor under the age of 16 costs $135 (but check updates to fees here). Please keep in mind that the applicant will also have to bear the cost of any DNA testing if you opt to do so. Furthermore, the CRBA process is very time-intensive, and sometimes requires multiple trips to the Consulate or Embassy. Please be sure to plan for travel costs and unexpected delays in the process.

  1. What types of evidence can I submit for proof of physical presence?

Physical presence refers to the days the U.S. citizen parent was physically in the United States. Acceptable forms of evidence of physical presence may include official, original school transcripts (elementary, high school, or college), Social Security statements, old passports, and DD-214s (for members of the armed forces). Online coursework at U.S. colleges or universities will not be counted as physical presence, as it is not necessary to be in the United States to complete an online degree. Tax records (W-2s) and some employment records may be useful but are often insufficient for evidence of physical presence when used alone. If parents have lost passports and are having a difficult time finding evidence of physical presence, you may want to consider requesting your Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Exit and Entry records through a Freedom of Information Act request at https://www.cbp.gov/site-policy-notices/foia. Please keep in mind that it can take time to process these requests, so plan accordingly. The consular officer will look at the totality of the evidence to determine if the parent(s) met the requirements for physical presence or residency.

  1. What evidence is NOT acceptable evidence of proof of physical presence?

The Consular Officer will not accept some tax forms (such as 1099), mortgage statements, online study transcripts, letters from employers, or affidavits from friends or neighbors as evidence of physical presence. Evidence of physical presence must convey an exact number of days the U.S. citizen parent was in the United States. The examples above may be evidence of residency but not physical presence.

  1. What types of documents can I submit for proof of biological relationship?

Biological relationship can sometimes be challenging to prove. Evidence of a biological relationship between the U.S. citizen parent and the child can be supported by evidence of the parent’s relationship to each other. Therefore, it is helpful to present evidence of courtship and relationship over time and the marriage (if applicable). It is also helpful to know if there are any other children in the family relationship. The parents will need to prove they had access to each other at the time of the child’s conception. This may be supported with flight itinerary or passport stamps. Prenatal records of the pregnancy of the child will also need to be provided. These should include records of doctor’s visits during the pregnancy, as well as any records of scans of the child that indicate gestational age.

We recognize in some cases evidence of biological relationship is more challenging to provide. However, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide this information and it is a requirement of law that there is a biological relationship between the U.S. citizen parent and the child.

  1. I cannot get all the documents before my 90-day deadline. What happens next?

Except in extenuating circumstances all applications may only remain open for 90 days from the time of the initial appointment. If you cannot submit supporting evidence within the 90 days, your case will be administratively closed and the CRBA will not be issued. You will receive a denial letter that explains this decision. If you wish to continue pursuing a CRBA, you will need to submit the application again and pay fees again. In order to avoid such processing delays and added expenses, please do not request an appointment until you have gathered all the required documents and evidence.

  1. I cannot provide proof of biological relationship. Can I just do DNA?

You should NOT initiate the DNA process until after your interview with the consular officer. You will be given specific instructions on what labs you may use and how to complete the process if you opt to get DNA testing. Not all labs are acceptable, and testing of the child must be done at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy. Initiating the process without being asked to do so may result in increased expense and processing delays. Furthermore, the DNA process should never be initiated until all other requirements for the CRBA are complete.

  1. The Consular Officer said that DNA is an option for my child’s case. What do I do next?

You should have been given instructions and an explanation about the DNA process at the time of your interview. Read the instructions carefully about how to choose a lab. You will pay the fees directly to an approved lab. Once you have chosen your lab and paid your fees, please wait for the DNA unit to contact you about scheduling your DNA collection appointment. Remember that all parties being tested, including the child, will need an international passport at the time of DNA collection. Therefore, in order to avoid delays in the process, it is important to obtain the child’s Nigerian passport in a timely manner. Once DNA results are received by the American Citizen Services unit, they will be reviewed by a Consular Officer. If more information is needed to process the case, you will be contacted via email or phone. A decision about whether the child qualifies for the CRBA will be made once the file is reviewed by a Consular Officer. You will receive a letter explaining the denial or information about collecting the documents.

  1. My child’s CRBA was denied. What do I do next?

You may wish to consult with an immigration attorney to assist you through this complicated process. Your next steps will depend on the reason for the denial. If the application was “not issued” because you failed to supply required evidence within the 90-day deadline, you may be able to resubmit your application with new evidence, but you will need to pay a new fee. Remember, your application will only be considered if you provide new evidence. If your application was denied, you may have different options. An application may be denied because neither parent was a U.S. citizen when the child was born or there was no genetic relationship between the U.S. citizen parent and the child. In each of these cases, the child will not qualify for a CRBA. Therefore, the parents may want to consider the immigrant visa process.