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CITIZENSHIP & NATURALIZATION

Citizenship through Parents

Biological or Adopted Children of U.S. Citizen Residing in the United States

A child of a U.S. citizen parent or parents automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Child Citizenship Act (CCA):

  • At least one parent of the child is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization.
  • The child is under the age of 18 years.
  • The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent based on a lawful admission for permanent residence.
  • An adopted child may automatically become a citizen under section 320 of the INA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration regulations.

To qualify as a "child" under immigration regulations, the person must be unmarried. Also, a child who was born out of wedlock (meaning that the parents were not married at the time of the person's birth), must be "legitimated" while under the age of 16 and while in the legal custody of the legitimating parent. A 'child' who satisfies the requirements of INA Section 320 before turning 18 automatically obtains citizenship without having to file an application for naturalization. However, in order to obtain a certificate of citizenship from USCIS, an individual must file Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.

Biological or Adopted Children Residing Outside the United States

  • At least one parent is a U.S. citizen or, if deceased, the parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of death.
  • The U.S. citizen parent or his or her U.S. citizen parent has (or at the time of death had) been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for at least 5 years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of 14.
  • The child is under the age of 18 years.
  • The child is residing outside of the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent (or, if the citizen parent is deceased, an individual who does not object to the application).
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States after having entered lawfully and is maintaining lawful status in the United States.
  • An adopted child may be eligible for naturalization under section 322 of the INA if the child satisfies the requirements applicable to adopted children under immigration regulations.

To qualify as a "child" for purposes of Section 322 of the INA, the person must be unmarried. Also, a person who was born out of wedlock (meaning that the parents were not married at the time of the person's birth), must be "legitimated" while under the age of 16 and while in the legal custody of the legitimating parent.

Under Section 322 of the INA, the U.S. citizen parent can file a Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate on behalf of an eligible 'child'. The Form N-600K application must be filed, approved, and the child must take the oath of allegiance, if required to do so, before the child reaches age 18. If the U.S. citizen parent of the child has died, a U.S. citizen grandparent or U.S. citizen legal guardian may apply on behalf of the child within 5 years of the parent's death.

Citizenship for Child of a USC born Abroad

Whether someone born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent or parents is a U.S. citizen depends on the law in effect at the time the person was born. These laws have changed over the years, but usually require a combination of at least one parent being a U.S. citizen when the child was born and having lived in the U.S. or its possessions for a period of time.

Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock: A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires U.S. citizenship at birth provided that one of the parents had a residence in the U.S. prior to the child's birth.

Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire U.S. citizenship provided:

  • A blood relationship between the applicant and the father is established by clear and convincing evidence;
  • The father had the nationality of the United States at the time of the applicant's birth;
  • The father (unless deceased) has agreed in writing to provide financial support for the person until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years, and
  • While the person is under the age of 18 years —
    • The applicant is legitimated under the law of their residence or domicile,
    • The father acknowledges paternity of the person in writing under oath, or
    • The paternity of the applicant is established by adjudication court.

Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother: A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire U.S. citizenship if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.

The birth of a child abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s) should be reported as soon as possible to the nearest U.S. consulate/embassy for the purpose of establishing an official record of the child's claim to U.S. citizenship at birth. The official record is in the form of a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America.

Certificate of Citizenship Issued by USCIS: Under Section 341 of the INA, a person, who acquires U.S. citizenship through birth abroad to a U.S. citizen parent(s) or who acquires U.S. citizenship by derivative naturalization, may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Upon approval, a Certificate of Citizenship will be issued in the name of the person, but only if that person is in the United States. Under law, the Consular Report of Birth and the Certificate of Citizenship are equally acceptable as proof of citizenship.

CITIZEN THROUGH NATURALIZATION

REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN THROUGH NATURALIZATION

To qualify for naturalization, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • 2. Be a lawful permanent resident (have a "Green Card") for five years.
    • If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you need to be a lawful permanent resident for only three years.
    • If you had refugee or Asylee status, you do not need the full five years of being a permanent resident. See a naturalization expert.
  • 3. Have good moral character.
    • This means, among other things, not having certain problems with the police or other authorities.
  • 4. Be able to speak, read, and write English at a basic level.
    • There are exceptions for older people. You do not have to know English if at the time you apply for naturalization:
      • You are 55 years or older and have had a green card for 15 years, or
      • You are 50 years or older and have had a green card for 20 years.
  • 5. Be able to pass a test on U.S. history and government.
  • 6. Swear that you are loyal to the United States.

If any of these things are true about you, you must see an expert in immigration law before applying for naturalization. Be honest and try to remember if you had any problems in the past. This does not mean that you cannot apply for naturalization, but you should talk to an expert before you apply so you will know whether you have a problem, and how you can best explain the problem to the immigration authorities.

Check the appropriate box if you have had any of the following problems:

  • You made trips out of the United States for more than six months
  • You moved to another country since getting your green card
  • You are in deportation or removal proceedings – or - you have been deported
  • You haven't filed your federal income taxes
  • You haven't supported your children
  • You are male and did not register for the Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 26
  • You are on probation or parole for a criminal conviction
  • You have contradictory information on your application
  • You lied or committed fraud to get your Green Card, or you were not originally eligible for your Green Card when you got it.
  • You have been arrested or convicted of a crime or you have committed a crime
  • You lied or committed fraud to receive or to continue to receive public benefits
  • You helped someone enter the United States illegally, even if it was a relative
  • You claimed to be a U.S. citizen but you weren't
  • You have been charged with committing domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect
  • You have voted illegally in the United States
  • You have made a living by illegal gambling
  • You have been involved in prostitution
  • You have been a habitual drunkard, a drug abuser, or a drug addict

IF YOU CHECKED ANY OF THE ABOVE BOXES, YOU MUST CONSULT WITH AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY!

For more information, please contact us at 215-368-8600 or ak@akaimmigration.com

Immigration…..

It's not just a process, it's your future!

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