Derivative and Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship – Are You Already a U.S. Citizen?

There are several ways that someone may prove they are a U.S. citizen without being born in the U.S. or taking the naturalization test.  If they have at least one U.S. citizen parent at the time of their birth, or if their parent becomes a U.S. citizen prior to their 18th birthday, they may qualify to derive or automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon submission of certain applications and required evidence. 

Applying for Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA).  A person may derive citizenship at birth and apply for a CRBA through the Department of State. A CRBA is only issued to a child who derived U.S. citizenship at birth through at least one U.S citizen parent and who is under the age of 18 at the time of the application. Parents may also choose instead to apply only for a U.S. passport for their child. Like a CRBA, a full validity, unexpired U.S. passport is proof of U.S. citizenship.

Acquisition of Citizenship After Birth and Admission to the U.S.  Under the Child Citizenship Act (CCA) of 2000, a child automatically acquires citizenship if at least one parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization and the child has been admitted as a Legal Permanent Resident. The child must reside in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and be under the age of 18. This only applies to people who met these conditions on or after February 27, 2001.  Through this law, a child may apply for either a certificate of citizenship or a U.S. passport.

Expedited Naturalization of a Child of a U.S. Citizen.  This process also results in a certificate of citizenship.  A child born abroad may qualify if they have a U.S. citizen parent who was physically present in U.S. at least 5 years before the child’s birth (at least 2 years after age 14), or that parent has a citizen parent who was physically present in U.S. at least 5 years before the child’s birth (at least 2 years after age 14). The child must reside outside the U.S. in legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent and be under the age of 18. The child must be temporarily admitted to the U.S. and in status to be issued the certificate.

Transmission of Citizenship at Birth Abroad.  If a child had at least one U.S. citizen parent at the time of their birth, whether their parents were married or not, they may also qualify for a certificate of citizenship.  The evidence required upon application depends on the existing law at the time of the child’s birth. Depending on when the is child born, the U.S. citizen parent must prove physical presence in the U.S. or its possessions for either 5 or 10 years before child’s birth.

FIND OUT WHERE YOU STAND!  You may already qualify for a benefit that you are not aware of yet.  If you have never talked to an immigration attorney about your situation before, now is the best time to do so – before the new administration starts making changes that may affect you and your family.  Contact an experienced, licensed attorney to find out what YOU can do to help your situation. If you would like our assistance, contact our office today at 210-932-3600 to set up a consultation.

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