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Derivative Citizenship

derivative citizenship

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 varying standards of proof, including legitimacy or children born out-of-wedlock and the amount of required physical presence in the U.S. by the parent through whom the 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. Relatives who may qualify for derived family immigration:

  • Spouse or unmarried children of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Children of the U.S citizen (over the age of 21)
  • Parents of the U.S citizen (over the age of 21)
  • Siblings of a U.S. citizen
  • Orphan child / adoptee (under 16)
  • Children fathered by a U.S. serviceman during either the Vietnam or Korean War

These relationships can also lead to lawful permanent resident status, popularly known as a Green Card. After obtaining permanent resident status, you are eligible to become a U.S. citizen within three-to-five years of obtaining your Green Card. It is also possible to obtain a Green Card through marriage to a U.S. citizen.


If you are serious about getting legal assistance a consultation is the best place to start. Spend up to a full hour with an immigration attorney to discuss the details of your case, get answers to your questions, work through complex issues and supporting documents and plan an immigration strategy for obtaining benefits.

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