Derivative Citizenship for Children of U.S. Citizens
Citizenship can be acquired at birth, or derived through the naturalization or birth of one parent. Depending on the facts in the case — including the date of birth of the applicant — the law applies different requirements, including the treatment of legitimacy and children born out of wedlock and the amount of required physical presence in the U.S. by the parent through whom citizenship is claimed. A person born outside the U.S. has the burden of proof in claiming U.S. citizenship.
Persons born outside the U.S. may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth where one or both of the parents are U.S. citizens. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 automatically accords derivative citizenship to a child born outside of the United States under specific conditions.
Persons who derive their citizenship through a parent must undergo a different process than persons applying for naturalization. If you have a U.S. citizen parent and are wondering whether you might have derived citizenship through your parent, you should consult with an immigration attorney to determine whether you should apply for a certificate of citizenship or naturalization. Millar and Hayes has handled many derivative citizenship applications and can guide you to the correct approach.