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Some minor children may automatically derive U.S. citizenship via birth abroad to a U.S. citizen parent or via a parent's own naturalization.  The child's date of birth dictates whether that child is acquired U.S. citizenship by law or must apply for naturalization on his/her own.  If an individual has acquired U.S. citizenship through a parent, that individual is no longer eligible for naturalization, no matter his/her current age (even if that person is now over the age of 18).

The laws governing whether or not a child is a U.S. citizen via a parent has remained constant since February 27, 2001 with the enactment of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (as long as the child was under the age of 18 after this date).  Before then. the citizenship laws varied, depending on the date of the child's birth.  


A child is automatically a U.S. citizen at birth, even if born abroad, if, prior to the child's birth, the parent was a U.S. citizen and was physically present in the U.S. for at least 5 years, 2 of which were after age 14.  Exceptions may exist where the U.S. citizen is the father and the child is born out-of-wedlock.


A child may acquire U.S. citizenship after birth if the following conditions have been met prior to the child's 18th birthday:

  • 1 parent is a U.S. citizen (exceptions may exist where the U.S. citizen is the father and the child is born-out-of wedlock)

  • Child is a lawful permanent resident

  • The U.S. citizen parent has legal and physical custody of the child

Return to "Naturalization"

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