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Affiliated Attorneys, LLC Blog

Friday, July 5, 2019

Gaining Citizenship Through Your Parents or Birth

There are four primary methods of becoming a U.S. citizen: (1) being born on U.S. soil, including U.S. territories, (2) being born to American parents, (3) at least one of your parents becoming a naturalized citizen, or (4) becoming a naturalized citizen by living in the U.S. legally. This post will focus on the first three methods of obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Being Born in the U.S. or in a U.S. Territory

Many individuals who were born within the U.S. or a U.S. territory but have lived abroad their entire life may not realize that they are still U.S. citizens. If you were born within the U.S., you instantly receive U.S. citizenship. However, birth in a U.S. territory, such as Guam or the Virgin Islands, does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship. Individuals born in a U.S. territory may be granted citizenship if one or both parents were U.S. citizens and physically present in the U.S. or one of its territories for a continuous period of at least one year at the time of birth.

Being Born to American Parents

Even if you were not born in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, you may still be a U.S. citizen or eligible to become one. The law regarding automatic citizenship resulting from birth to at least one U.S. citizen parent has changed multiple times throughout recent history. To best determine whether you automatically received U.S. citizenship as a result of birth to at least one U.S. citizen parent, you will need to identify the law in effect at the time of your birth.

Your Parents Becoming U.S. Citizens

If your parents become naturalized citizens, you too may be eligible for U.S. citizenship through “derivation.” Generally, if you held a green card and were under 18 years of age at the time one of your parents becomes a naturalized citizen, then you automatically derive U.S. citizenship. However, like the law pertaining to being born to at least one American parent overseas, the laws surrounding derivation have changed several times over the years. To ensure that you fully understand the law applicable at the time of at least one parent’s naturalization, consult with an experienced immigration attorney near you.

In addition to obtaining U.S. citizenship through one of the three above mentioned methods, you may be a U.S. citizen through a combination of methods. For example, your parents may unknowingly be U.S. citizens due to derivation or being born to a U.S. parent overseas. As a result, you may also be a U.S. citizen.

 


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Serving Southeastern Wisconsin, with offices in Milwaukee and West Bend, Affliated Attorneys, LLC represent clients throughout Milwaukee County, Washington County, Waukesha County, Dodge County, Ozaukee County, Racine County, Sheboygan County, Jefferson County, Fond du Lac County and Walworth County.



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