Naturalization of one’s parents

When a parent naturalizes, his or her children (under the age of 18 and living with the parent at the time) may “derive” U.S. citizenship automatically, provided they are also permanent residents. What’s more, a child who gets U.S. citizenship through derivation does not have to participate in a naturalization ceremony. Generally, foreign-born children under 18 automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if three requirements are met:

  • The child must have U.S. lawful permanent resident status (“green card” holder); and
  • At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen; and
  • The child must be residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent.

The laws on the automatic naturalization of children have varied over the years. Making a determination if the law applies to you is dependent on the law that existed when your parent’s naturalization took place. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney that can guide you through this process. For more information, read Derivation of U.S. Citizenship for Children.

Citizenship through Birth (birth inside the U.S. or its territories)

Under United States law, any person born within the United States (including the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands) is automatically granted U.S. citizenship. The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that:

“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.”



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