Automatic Citizenship

Some people may not realize that even though they were born outside of the U.S., they are U.S. citizens by birth, or even have acquired it at a later time through their U.S. citizen parents.  There are laws that can benefit children of U.S. citizens, but depends on a myriad of different factors such as the date of birth of the child, whether the parents were married at the time of the child’s birth, and the physical presence of one of the parents in the U.S.  Further, generally, there are two ways to obtain citizenship through parents: at birth and after birth, but before the age of 18.

When a child is born abroad, the child may be a U.S. citizen at birth if, 1) the parents were married at the time of birth, 2) both parents are U.S. citizens, and 3) at least one of the parents lived in the U.S. prior to the child’s birth.  If the parents were married, but only one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth which occurred on or after November 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen parent had to have been physically present in the U.S. for a period of at least five years prior to the child’s birth.  Of those five years, two of those years must be after the U.S. citizen parent turned 14 years old.   If the child’s parents were not married at the time of the child’s birth, the requirements become very complicated, so you should consult with a knowledgeable attorney that can explain the requirements to you.

A child may also acquire citizenship automatically after their birth before they turn 18 years of age, if: 1) the child was under 18 or not yet born as of February 27, 2001; 2) at least one parent is a U.S. citizen; 2) the child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. parent; 3) the child has been admitted to the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident; and 4) the child is under 18 years of age.  Otherwise, again, the requirements to acquire citizenship from a parent after birth get complicated, so you should speak to a knowledgeable attorney.

Many other factors can affect whether a child can claim or acquire citizenship.  Speak to an attorney to find out if you are a U.S. citizen.