Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

US Citizens Born Abroad

PublicationDate: 12/26/96
Summary: US Citizens Born Abroad
Author: PDD - Policy Development Division/PTAS

Posted December 26, 1996

US Citizens Born Abroad

We have received questions concerning instances when the
Central Processing System (CPS) data match with the Social
Security Administration (SSA) fails to confirm claims of US
citizenship for some citizens who were born outside of the
United States. These applicants include those born to military
personnel who were on duty in another country, parents who
were serving in the Peace Corps, and others who were born
outside of the United States, but whose parents were US

According to information provided by the US Department of
State, such births should have been registered with the
American Embassy at the time of birth, or before the child left
the country. A "Certificate of Birth Abroad" would have been
issued by the Department of State at that time providing
certification of the citizenship status of the child.

Whether or not the registration of birth had taken place, the
SSA data base would not have automatically included the US
citizenship status. It is the responsibility of the applicant (or
parent) to notify the SSA, either at the time of the original
application for a social security number or as an update, of their
status as a US citizen. This is much the same procedure that
exists for persons who become naturalized citizens after they
have already obtained a social security number as a legal
resident. Unless such information was provided to the SSA,
these applicants will fail the citizenship confirmation of the
SSA match when they file a FAFSA.

When a school is notified by the CPS output (SAR or ISIR)
that an applicant's claim of US citizenship could not be
confirmed by the SSA, it must resolve the eligibility question
prior to disbursing Title IV funds to the applicant. If the
applicant claims US citizenship but indicates that he or she was
not born in the US, the easiest resolution is to have the
applicant contact the SSA, provide them with the needed
documentation, and have the SSA update their database. The
applicant can they resubmit their financial aid application
through the CPS using the correction process. This
action will also eliminate a future non-confirmation if the
student applies for aid in subsequent years.

A school may also confirm citizenship status by collecting
documentation and noting the file prior to awarding Title IV
aid. The "Certificate of Birth Abroad" or a "Certification of
US Citizenship" are obviously the best types of documentation.

According to the Department of State, individuals whose birth
was registered can get a copy of the "Certificate of Birth
Abroad" by writing to:

Department of State
Passport Correspondence Branch
1111 19th St., SW Suite 510
Washington, DC 20522-1705
The request must provide, for each person seeking a duplicate
"Certificate of Birth Abroad" the following:

Name at birth
Date and place of birth
Daytime phone number
Parent's names, dates and place(s) of birth
$10 fee - check or money order made out to Department of

This process takes from 4 to 8 weeks.

If the birth was not registered, a self petition for a
"Certification of Citizenship" (Form N-600) can be filed with
the local INS office . Proof of parents' US citizenship at the
time of birth must be provided.

A school could also confirm the applicant's claim of US
citizenship by reviewing documentation that proves that at least
one of the applicant's parents was a US citizen. Such
documentation should include a copy of the applicant's birth
certificate (or other similar document) confirming the identity
of the parent along with proof of the parent's US citizenship

For more information about the citizenship status and
documentation available for US citizens born outside of the
US, applicants and schools can contact the US State
Department at: (202) 955-0307.

Jeff Baker, Director
Policy Development Division
Student Financial Assistance Programs
U.S. Department of Education

Last Modified: 08/16/1999