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An individual may automatically become a U.S. citizen if this person’s parents (or parent) naturalized or if the parent was a U.S. citizen by birth. The law concerning citizenship through derivation has changed several times over the years. The current law cannot be applied retroactively. Therefore, anyone seeking citizenship through derivation must identify what law governed when the person was a child.
Under the current law – the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 – a child derives citizenship if:
• at least one parent is a U.S. citizen, either by birth or by naturalization;
• the child was under age 18 at the time of the parent’s naturalization;
• the child is a lawful permanent resident residing in the United States; and
• the child is living in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent.
Note: Step-children – are not covered since they are not deemed children for the purposes of Title III of the INA by way of INA 101(c). However, adopted children and children who were adopted prior to the issuance of their immigrant visas, become U.S. citizens upon their admittance to the U.S. as legal permanent residents.
Child Born out of Wedlock
A child born out of wedlock who has not been legitimated can still automatically become a U.S. citizen when the child’s mother naturalizes. However, if an out of wedlock child is claiming U.S. citizenship through his or her father, the claim must be based on the laws of legitimacy of any jurisdiction where the father or the child resided before the child’s 18th birthday.
An individual claiming US citizenship by derivation may apply directly for a U.S. passport without obtaining or requiring a certificate of citizenship. An individual may also file Form N-600 with USCIS. Laws concerning derivation are one of the most complex areas of immigration law due to the law changing as well as the current Child Citizenship Act not applying retroactively. An individual claiming citizenship needs to satisfy a range of complex requirements. Although one can appeal, one cannot repeatedly submit form N-600 with USCIS.
Therefore, you should consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can fully go over your history and identify which law applies. Contact the Law Firm of Kyce Siddiqi to help you right away.