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):
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
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:
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.
REQUIREMENTS FOR BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN THROUGH NATURALIZATION
To qualify for naturalization, you must:
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:
IF YOU CHECKED ANY OF THE ABOVE BOXES, YOU MUST CONSULT WITH AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY!