Citizenship can be a confusing topic at times. At the most basic level being a citizen isn’t a hard idea to understand. A citizen refers to any individual who is considered part of a country. This status confers certain rights like being able to vote, and also ensures that the local government has to ensure your rights are defended.
However, while being a citizen is a generally simple matter (you are or aren’t), citizenship law in the USA isn’t necessarily as straightforward. There are a lot of laws that allow people to become a citizen even if they weren’t born in the country. And there are also a fair amount of considerations to take into account before someone is declared to be a citizen, even if it seems straightforward at first.
Some of the most common questions when it comes to citizenship and naturalization center about the topic and children, and with good reason. If you are opting for citizenship or recently obtained it you’ll want your children to enjoy the benefits too. And so you’ll be likely wondering yourself is my child an US citizen if I am an US citizen myself?
The complex is slightly too complex to answer with a simple yes or no, so to make sure all angles are covered will go over the fine detail today. So you can fully understand what are the requirements and exceptions in place on this topic.
Is My Child An US Citizen If I Am An US Citizen Myself?
Technically speaking there’s no guarantee your child will be granted citizenship as long as you are a US citizen yourself. If we go by the laws themselves there isn’t any law that says that all children of all American citizens will be declared citizens too immediately.
That said most of the laws regarding citizenship in children are still largely geared to make it easier for the children of citizens to become citizens themselves. Most children of citizens will be declared citizens, or at least will have a clear path to obtain this distinction. But it’s important to understand what the law says to understand when it applies.
What Does “Child” Mean In This Context?
Understanding what the United States considers a child in this context of naturalization is important to proceed. In this context, the term is not particularly limited, and it covers both biological children and adopted ones. So as long as you are considered the legal parent of the child the following rules will apply to them.
While the US government does not make distinctions of age when it comes to the term in this context, age does ultimately play a role. The following rules apply to individuals who are under 18 years of age. So ultimately being a minor does play a large role in this naturalization process.
Children Born In The US
If your child was born in the United States itself there’s usually no reason to worry or think too long about the topic. The Fourteenth Amendment is clear in the fact that all persons born in the US are citizens by default. This is known as birthright citizenship, and it applies even if the child’s parents aren’t citizens themselves.
There are very few exceptions to this law, and they mostly apply to foreign politicians or hostile invaders in the case of a war. So if you are a US citizen and your child was born in the US citizenship will be granted immediately. It’s as easy as that.
Of course, this is the most straightforward case and most people who wonder about citizenship didn’t have their kids on US soil. However, as we will see soon there’s still a lot of laws backing children even if they weren’t born in America itself.
Children Residents Of The US
Perhaps the most common case where doubts arise is for parents who just received their citizenship. After all, becoming citizens themselves doesn’t change the legal status of their kids, and it can leave you with more questions than answers.
However once again the laws are mostly in favor of children. According to Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), any child born outside of the United States can become a citizen as soon as certain conditions are met.
First and foremost the child must be under 18 years of age. On top of that, at least one of their parents whether natural or adoptive must be a US citizen either by birth or naturalization and currently reside in the US under the custody of the citizen parent. Last but not least the child must be a Lawful Permanent Resident.
The most complex part to understand is the “Lawful Permanent Resident” tag. In short, this means that the child is a legal resident of the country, meaning that they are a green card holder. Usually, as long as the kid entered the country through the authorized means they’ll be able to become an LPR and from then gain citizenship.
The form required for this process is known as N-600, so feel free to check it at length if you still have doubts in regards to this process.
Children Of Citizens Residing Outside Of The US
Children of citizens can also apply for citizenship even if their parents aren’t currently residing in the US. However, while it is a similar process to the above one, there are a few key differences.
Once again the child must be under 18 years of age and must have at least one parent who is considered a US citizen. That parent or a grandparent must meet a certain physical presence in the country or an outlying possession. At the time of the application, the child must not reside in the US and be in the custody of their citizen parent or someone that does not object to the application in the case the citizen parent is dead. And last but not least the child must enter the country legally and be present for the naturalization process once their application is approved.
So as long as you fulfill the presence requirements your child should have an easy time getting their citizenship. As a whole, the US government is interested in ensuring that parents and children remain together, so both processes favor the children considerably.