Are You Already a U.S. Citizen?
As hard as it is to believe, many people living in the United States may already be a U.S. citizen and not even know it. Those individuals are typically a part of one of the these three categories:
- People born in the United States, who lived most of their lives outside of the country. Some people mistakenly believe that living outside the United States for most of their lives will make them lose their citizenship, which is not true.
- People who mistakenly believe that they are not U.S. citizens, even though their ancestors were U.S. citizens. Even if you were born outside of the United States, you may already be a U.S. citizen if your parents or grandparents were U.S. citizens.
- Children of Naturalized citizens may already be U.S. citizens. Parents who have minor children and become naturalized citizens, their minor kids who have green cards also acquire U.S. citizenship.
U.S. Citizenship by Being Born in the United States
A child born in the United States or one of its territories will automatically gain American citizenship. This is called "birth right" citizenship and is enshrined in the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and says the following:
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.
Children of diplomats and other foreign officials who are born in the United States will not automatically receive U.S. citizenship. (Title 8 of the U.S. Code). Being born in the United States will guarantee that your U.S. citizenship will last your entire life, unless you take steps to give it up, like filing an oath.
Acquiring U.S. Citizenship By Being Born In the United States
If at least one of your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born, you will gain U.S. citizenship through the process called acquisition in most cases. It will not matter whether you were born inside the U.S. or abroad. Your children will also acquire U.S. citizenship at birth through you. Further, adopted children born abroad of U.S. citizens will also acquire U.S. citizenship.
Citizenship laws regarding acquisition can be complex and will take many factors into account, such as your parents' citizenship and whether they were married when you were born. In addition to these complexities, Congress has made many changes to these laws throughout the years. To find out which law will be applicable to you and your children, determine which of the following datelines applies.
Born prior to May 24, 1934;
- Born between May 25, 1934 and January 12, 1941
- Born between January 13, 1941 and December 23, 1952
- Born between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, or
- Born after November 14, 1986.
Derivatives of U.S. Citizens and Naturalization Parents
Children may become U.S. citizens as derivatives if their parents gain citizenship through Naturalization. To take advantage of the derivation process, when the parent becomes a naturalized citizen, their child must be under 18, have a green card, and living with the naturalized parents. If your child becomes a U.S. citizen through this special process, they will not have to apply for citizenship and pass the naturalization test.
The same way the laws for acquiring citizenship by being born to U.S. citizens, laws that deal with derivation of citizenship have changed many times in the past. To find out which laws apply to you, find the naturalization dates for your parent(s). These dates are:
- Before May 24, 1934
- Between May 24, 1934 and January 12, 1941
- Between January 13, 1941 and December 23, 1952
- Between December 24, 1952 and October 4, 1978
- Between October 5, 1978 and February 26, 2001, or
- After February 27, 2001
Should You Carry Proof of Citizenship?
If you are a U.S. citizen, you should get proof of citizenship such as a U.S. passport in order to guarantee that you will receive all the benefits of citizenship. Proof of citizenship can be required to apply for a state driver's license, a job application, or other processes when proof of U.S. residency is a requirement.
Contact Attorney Sam For Your Immigration Issues.
For experienced and knowledgeable advice or legal representation, where you will receive personalized client service, contact our immigration law office today. We are offering a free initial consultation to new clients and will guide you through every step of gaining U.S. citizenship.