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

Nationality Chart #1

Children Born Outside U.S. in Wedlock


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 Public Law 95-432 of October 10, 1978 repealed retention requirements prospectively only.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** Retention requirements were repealed because of Technical Amendments of 1994, which made a process available for restoration.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

Nationality Chart # 3

Derivative Citizenship of Children

* 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.