Can I be a U.S. citizen through a parent or parents who became naturalized U.S. citizens?
You might be a citizen of the U.S. if one or both of your parents became naturalized U.S. citizens before you turned 18. This type of citizenship is called “derivative citizenship.” It means that when your parents became citizens, you “derived” or got citizenship through them. If you qualify for derivative citizenship, you became a citizen automatically when your parent or parents naturalized. You did not have to fill out any forms. So you may have been a U.S. citizen since your parent(s) naturalized and you never even knew it.
One of my parents was a U.S. citizen but never lived in the United States. One of my grandparents was also a U.S. citizen. Could I have derived U.S. citizenship?
If a parent gave birth to a child abroad and was a United States citizen, but did not live in the U.S. for the required amount of time before the child’s birth, the child may still have derived U.S. citizenship if a grandparent was also a U.S. citizen. Read about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Due to the complex provisions of U.S. immigration law that govern derivative citizenship, it is strongly recommended that you contact an immigration attorney to provide more accurate case-by-case assistance. JCS Immigration and Visa has helped hundreds of applicants successfully obtain citizenship. We are located in Los Angeles, have helped clients across the country and around the world. Please call or email us for a free initial consultation.
After I was born, my parent became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Could I have derived U.S. citizenship?
If at least one parent naturalized and became a United States citizen after February 27, 2001 and you were living as a permanent resident and under 18 years of age at the time, then you may have automatically acquired U.S. citizenship. If the same applies but was before this date, then both parents must have naturalized unless one parent had passed away.
However, if you were over 18 at the time of your parent’s naturalization, then you must apply for citizenship after living in the United States as a permanent resident for at least 5 years.
What if I entered the U.S. after my parent or parents naturalized?
It does not matter in what order the requirements for derivative citizenship are met. This is true unless you are claiming derivative citizenship through adoptive parents, as long as they all happened before your 18th birthday.
What if I became a lawful permanent resident after my parent or parents naturalized?
It does not matter whether you became a lawful permanent resident before or after your parents naturalized. Just as long as you began to live in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident before your 18th birthday, USCIS will have no issues, unless you are claiming derivative citizenship through adoptive parents.
What if only one of my parents became a naturalized U.S. citizen before I turned 18?
In some cases, you might be a derivative citizen if only one of your parents became a naturalized U.S. citizen before your 18th birthday. In this section, we discuss four different ways.
You may be a derivative citizen if, before your 18th birthday, any of the following are true:
- One of your parents naturalized and your other parent was a U.S. citizen.
- one of your parents naturalized and your parents were divorced or legally separated.
- one of your parents naturalized and your other parent was deceased.
- your mother naturalized and your parents were not married when you were born, and never married prior to your 18th birthday.
If you are unsure whether or not you have derivative citizenship, please contact our experienced immigration attorneys in Los Angeles for a free consultation now.