U.S. law grants U.S. citizenship at birth based on: (a) birth in the U.S. or certain incorporated territories; (b) the citizenship of one or both parents; and (3) a combination of location and parental citizenship. U.S. citizenship is also granted to persons after birth based on a combination of parental citizenship and residence.
(1) Automatic acquisition of citizenship at birth
At least on parent is U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization and the child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. The U.S. citizen parent must reside or be physically present in the US for certain time periods prior to the birth of the child in order to transmit citizenship. The transmission requirements are established by the law in effect at the time of the child’s birth.
(2) Citizenship by Derivation through the Naturalization or U.S. Birth of One Parent
A child derives citizenship as long as: (1) one parent is a citizen by birth or naturalization; (2) child was under 18 at the time of the parent’s naturalization; (3) child is residing in the U.S. as an LPR; and (4) the child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent.
(3) Expedited Naturalization of Children
Children of US citizens who did not acquire citizenship at birth abroad or derive it through naturalization of their parent(s) may obtain a certificate of citizenship upon application of the US citizen if: (1) one parent is USC; (2) the child is temporarily present in the U.S. pursuant to lawful admission and maintains lawful status; (3) the child is under 18; and (4) the child is residing outside the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the US citizen parent who has been physically present in the U.S. for at least 5 years, at least 2 after age 14. The child of a citizen parent where the citizen parent (whether or not deceased) does/did not meet the physical presence requirements may obtain a certificate if the child is under 18, is present in the U.S. pursuant to lawful admission, and a grandparent (parent of the U.S. citizen) parent has been physically present in the U.S. for 5 years, 2 of which were after the grandparent’s 14th birthday.
(4) Naturalization by Application
An applicant must be (a) a lawful permanent resident; (b) 18 years or older; (c) must be a continuous resident for 5 years (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen) subsequent to legal permanent status, resided for at least 3 months in the state where the application is filed, must be physically present in the U.S. for at least one-half of the 5 years and must reside continuously in the U.S. from the date of filing to admission of citizenship; (d) must be a person of good moral character for 5 years prior to filing and up to the time of admission; (e) must be attached to principle of Constitution and well-disposed to good order and happiness of the U.S.; (f) must be willing to bear arms, perform noncombatant service or work of national importance; (g) must not otherwise be barred; (h) must demonstrate knowledge of English language, U.S. history, and government; and (i) must take an Oath of Allegiance.