Am I a US citizen?

About US Citizenship



Where were you born?  Who are you parents?

With the exception of foreign diplomats and heads of state, most people born in the United States are citizens of the United States.

In addition, the Immigration and Nationality Act provides various means of acquiring citizenship through ones US citizen parents, or deriving citizenship from parents who naturalize. NEW: Children born through Assisted Reproductive Technology now have the same right to citizenship through a gestational mother as through a biological mother.   Also, children adopted from outside the US may automatically become U.S. citizens when they immigrate to the United States.

Many of the provisions relating to acquisition and derivation of citizenship have changed over the years, especially those relating to the required period of residence by the US citizen parent(s).  The charts below (which are from USCIS) reflect the various requirements.

If you think you might be a citizen, or if you know you are but want to ensure that your children are too, you can schedule a consultation with me by phone (01273 434609) or by email to info@us-visa.co.uk.


Nationality Chart #1

Children Born Outside U.S. in Wedlock


PERIOD STEP 1   PARENTS
STEP 2
 
USC PARENT
STEP 3
 
CHILD
STEP 4
 
Period in which child was born.   Citizenship of the parents at time of child’s birth.
Determine if residence requirement was met prior to the birth of the child. If yes, the child was a USC at birth.   Determine if child has lost U.S. citizenship. The child lost on the date it became impossible to meet the retention requirements.  
Prior to
5/24/34
 
Either parent a USC*
U.S. citizen had resided in the U.S.       NONE  
On/after 5/24/34 and prior to 1/13/41   Both USCs   One parent had resided in the U.S.       NONE  
  One USC and one alien   USC parent had resided in the U.S.   ** 5 years residence in the U.S. or its OLP between ages 13 and 21. (Must start before age 16.)  
On/after 1/13/41 and prior to 12/24/52   One USC and one alien   USC had resided in the U.S. or OLP for 10 years, at least 5 of which were after age 16. EXCEPTIONS for honorable service in U.S. Armed Forces: 1. Between 12/7/41 & 12/31/46, 5 of the required 10 years must have been after age 12.
2.   Between 1/1/47
& 12/24/52, 10 years physical presence, at least 5 of which were after age 14. Note 3.
 OR ** 2 years continuous physical presence in U.S. between ages of 14 and 28. (Must start before age 26.)     OR ** NONE, if at time of child's birth, USC parent was employed by the U.S. Government or a specified U.S. organization . does not apply if parent used an exception. Notes 1, 2, 4  
  Both USCs   One had resided in the U.S. or OLP Note 3       NONE  
On/after 12/24/52 and prior to 11/14/86   Both USCs   One had resided in the U.S. or OLP Note 3       NONE  
  One USC and one alien   USC physically present in U.S. or OLP 10 years, at least 5 after age 14. Note 3       NONE  
On/after 11/14/86   Both USCs   One had resided in the U.S. or OLP Note 3       NONE  
  One USC and one alien   USC physically present in U.S. or OLP 5 years, at least 2 after the age of 14. Note 3       NONE  


NOTES:

1.     Absence of less than 12 months in the aggregate will not break residence; absence of less than 60 days in the aggregate will not break continuity of physical presence. Honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces counts as residence or physical presence.

2.     A child is relieved from the retention requirements if, prior to his 18th birthday, the child begins to reside permanently in the U.S. and the alien parent naturalizes.

3.     Includes periods spent abroad while employed by the U.S. government or an international organization OR as the dependent unmarried son or daughter member of the household of such employee.

4.     Public Law 95-432 of October 10, 1978 repealed retention requirements prospectively only. Anyone born on or after 10/11/52 (i.e., not age 26 on 10/10/78) no longer had retention requirements.

* Mother added because of Technical Amendments of 1994.

** Retention requirements were repealed because of Technical Amendments of 1994, which made a process available for restoration.


Nationality Chart # 2

Children Born Outside the U.S. Out of Wedlock


Birth date of child   U.S. Citizen Mother  
Prior to 5/24/34   The child was born an alien. HOWEVER , the child became a U.S. citizen retroactively to birth on 01/13/41 if:
1.
The mother had resided in the U.S. or OLP prior to the child's birth, UNLESS

2.The child was legitimated by
alien father prior to 1/13/41.
 
On/after 5/24/34 & prior to 12/24/52   Mother had resided in the U.S. or OLP at any time prior to the child's birth.  
On/after 12/24/52   Mother had one year of continuous physical present in the U.S. or OLP at any time prior to child's birth.  
Birth date of child   U.S. Citizen Father Legitimates Child  
Prior to 5/24/34  1.   Child legitimated at any time after birth under law of father's domicile. 2.   USC parent(s) had the required residence at time of child's birth.
3.   
See Chart 1

4.   No residence required for child to retain U.S. citizenship.
 
On/after 5/24/34 & prior to 1/13/41  
1.   Child legitimated at any time after birth under law of father's domicile.
2.   USC parent(s) had the required residence at time of child's birth.
3.   
See Chart 1.

4.   Child met retention requirements.
5.   See Chart 1.
On/after 1/13/41 & prior to 12/24/52
1.   Child legitimated before age 21 under law of father’s or child’s domicile.

2.   USC parent(s) had the required residence at time of child's birth.
3.   See Chart 1.

4.   
Child met retention requirements.

5.     See Chart 1
 
On/after 12/24/52 & prior to 11/14/86   1.     Child legitimated before age 21 under law of father’s or child’s domicile.
2.     Child legitimated PRIOR to 11/14/86

3.     Child must be unmarried.

4.     USC parent(s) had the required residence at time of child's birth.

5.     See Chart 1

6.     No residence required for child to retain U.S. citizenship.
 
Relationship established   U.S. Citizen Father Legitimates OR Acknowledges Child  
On/after 11/14/86   1.     Child legitimated OR acknowledged before age 18*:
·    
Legitimated under law of child's residence or domicile, OR

·    
Paternity acknowledged in writing under oath, OR

·    
Paternity established by court order.

2.     Blood relationship established.

3.     Father, unless deceased, has agreed in writing under oath to provide financial support until child reaches age 18 if not married to the mother.

4.     Child must be unmarried.

5.    
USC parent(s) had the required residence at time of child's birth.

6.    
See Chart 1
   
*A child 18 or over on 11/14/86 could use the old law. A child at least 15, but under 18, could use either law (DOB on/after 11/15/68)..
 


Nationality Chart # 3

Derivative Citizenship of Children


A child may derive U.S. citizenship during the below listed historical periods if such child was under the statutory age AND a) the child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence AND b) the parent(s) naturalized. It does not matter in which order the actions occurred.
Period in which last action took place.   Child became a LPR before the statutory age of:   Naturalization of parent(s) prior to the statutory age of the child.   Remarks  
Prior to 5/24/34   21 years   Either parent   NONE  
On/after 5/24/34 & prior to 1/13/41   21 years   Either parent   U.S. citizenship effective 5 years from date child became a LPR.**  
    Both parents*   NONE  
On/after 1/13/41 & prior to 12/24/52   18 years   Both parents*   Child born out of wedlock derived on 12/14/52 if under the age of 16 and had remained an LPR.  
On/after 12/24/52 & prior to 10/5/78   18 years   Both parents*   Child unmarried  
On/after 10/5/78 & prior to 2/27/01   18 years   Both parents*   Child unmarried Includes child adopted before age 16 who must be residing with the adoptive parent(s) at time of their naturalization.  
On/after 2/27/01   18 years   One parent by birth or naturalization.   Child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the USC parent. Applies to an adopted child of a USC; must meet §101(b)(1) INA adopted child requirements.  

* The definition of both parents includes:

a.     The surviving parent should one die, OR

b.     The parent having legal custody where there has been a legal separation or divorce, OR

c.     The alien parent who naturalizes when the other parent is already a USC, OR

d.     The mother of a child born out of wedlock, as long as the child has not been legitimated.

Exceptions: child born on/after 1/13/41 and prior to 12/24/52 AND on/after 2/27/01.

** Child relieved of the remainder of the 5-year wait if the naturalized parent comes to meet definition of ‘both parents’ .

§101(c) As used in title III-

(1) The term "child" means an unmarried person under twenty-one years of age and includes a child legitimated under the law of the child's residence or domicile, or under the law of the father's residence or domicile, whether in the United States or elsewhere, and, except as otherwise provided in sections 320, and 321 of title III, a child adopted in the United States, if such legitimation or adoption takes place before the child reaches the age of 16 years (except to the extent that the child is described in subparagraph (E)(ii) or (F)(ii) of subsection (b)(1)), and the child is in the legal custody of the legitimating or adopting parent or parents at the time of such legitimation or adoption.


SDH US Immigration Law, Ltd.
Castle Works
Westgate Street
Lewes, East Sussex
BN7 1YR
United Kingdom
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Steven D Heller,
Feb 9, 2014, 4:04 AM
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