Law Grants Automatic Citizenship to Some Children Born Abroad
Is it Possible that you are a Citizen?
We often see cases where a foreign born individual is a U.S. citizen and does not know it. Over the years we have seen many such cases. For example, an individual may have been born in another country and immigrated to the U.S. with his or her parents when he was very young. Both or one of his parents then became naturalized U.S. citizens before the individual’s 18th birthday. That young person then has a problem with the law and is placed in deportation proceedings. When they retain us to fight the deportation case the very first thing we do is determine whether or not he or she automatically acquired citizenship through a parent. If he is a U.S. citizen the deportation case is over because a citizen cannot be deported.
How to Get Automatic Citizenship
While most U.S. citizens acquire citizenship by being born in the U.S., or through a process called naturalization, there are certain people born abroad who can acquire citizenship automatically. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA) grants automatic citizenship to the biological and adopted children of parents who are U.S. citizens. The CCA generally benefits children who were born outside the United States, and have at least one parent who became a U.S. citizen. The child must have lawfully immigrated to the U.S. and the parent must have gained citizenship while the child was under 18 years of age.
To qualify for automatic U.S. citizenship, a child must:
• Meet the definition of “child” under immigration law;
• Have been under 18 years of age when all the requirements were;
• Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization;
• Have resided in the U.S. under the legal and physical custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen; and
• Be a lawful permanent resident.
If the child is legally adopted, he or she must meet all adoption requirements under immigration law.
“Because citizenship law has changed over the years, if the person is now over 18 years of age, USCIS looks to the relevant law that was in effect before the child turned 18 to decide if the person acquired U.S. citizenship,” said Mariana Gitomer, an officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How to Prove You Are a Citizen
A qualified child or adult is not required to file an application to establish U.S. citizenship, but if they want evidence of their citizenship status they may apply for a U.S. Passport or a certificate of citizenship, which can be obtained by filing form N-600. While either document is proof of U.S. citizenship, I suggest the passport application because it is faster and less expensive to obtain. The passport is also more useful as it can be used to travel abroad.
To apply click on the above links, or contact our office at (401) 432-7500 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
You will need the following:
• An original birth record with a certified translation if it is not in English;
• Your Lawful Permanent Resident Card;
• Documentation that proves that at least one parent became a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization before you reached the age of 18; and
• Documentation that proves that the citizen parent had legal custody over you at the time.
How to Get More Information
These cases are sometimes convoluted. These are the general requirements, but some unique situations may require additional steps. For more information contact Gonzalez Law Offices, Inc.
Written by: Roberto Gonzalez