The issue of determining whether a child born abroad is a US Citizen is very technical. Citizenship may have passed to the Child at birth or through a process called derivation, which considers where a parent Naturalizes as a US Citizen. This article will broadly cover the key items to consider.
Who was the US Citizen Parent?
Immigration law has historically treated Mothers differently from Fathers. A mother can more easily pass citizenship on to a child since “paternity” is obvious and law does not consider “legitimacy” regarding a mother. After all, blood relationship is very clear.
Was the US CItizen Parent Married?
Legitimacy is the “legal method” of recognizing a child as your own. Commonly, if you have a child during a marriage, the birth would be legitimated, unless another father contests. This issue is applicable only to fathers, and is very different from Paternity.
Legitimation is found in the laws of the state of residence or from the foreign country. Many countries find that marriage after the birth of a child is a form of Legitimation. Generally, Legitimacy is an issue if the father never married the mother, no court found the child legitimate in a legal proceeding, or where there was no alternative legitimacy action. Legitimacy is a common issue an Immigration Attorney must evaluate.
Has the US Citizen Parent ever resided in the US?
Residence in the United States is generally considered in whether a US Citizen at birth can pass their citizenship to children, this issue is dependant upon the year of birth of the child. Congress has changed the residency requirement over the years, but it is generally 5 years in the US, with 2 years occurring after the age of 14. However, laws have changed practically every decade. So, it is best to speak with an Immigration Attorney to determine which law applies.
Has the US Citizen Parent provided Financial Support?
Fathers are generally required to show “financial responsibility” and prove their financial support of the basic needs of a child. This requirement is not always required. It depends on the date of birth of the child and which version of the Citizenship law applies.
Was the Parent Born or Naturalized as a US Citizen?
Parents who were born a US Citizen are treated differently than parents who naturalized as a US Citizen, as this distinction would determine which type of Citizenship Laws apply.
Has the Child been lawfully admitted to the US?
Lawfully Admitted to the United States can be a confusing concept, but the consensus is that “lawful admission” stands for “lawful permanent residence” or a holder of a green card.
Lastly, was the Child Adopted or Natural?
Adopted children do not receive the same benefits at birth as a natural child. Moreover, the derivation of US Citizenship is different for adopted children. This fact is very important and should be closely considered by an Immigration Attorney.
As stated above, there are many items to consider when evaluating whether someone received US Citizenship from a parent. Please feel free to contact our Immigration Law Firm to set up a consultation with our Immigration Attorney.
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