Citizenship By Birth & Derivative U.S. Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship by Birth and Derivative U.S. Citizenship

The United States follows the principle of jus soli, which automatically gives U.S. citizenship to all persons born inside the United States. This rule does not apply to the children of certain foreign diplomats in the United States but it generally applies to everyone else.

U.S. Citizenship by Birth Abroad

Even if you were born outside the United States, you may be a U.S. citizen through the citizenship of one or both of your parents. Because the laws governing U.S. citizenship by birth abroad are complex, sometimes people are U.S. citizens without knowing it.

A lot of things affect whether a person born abroad got U.S. citizenship through one or both parents. We must have the following information in order to determine whether you were born a U.S. citizen:

  • Your date of birth;
  • Whether only one of your parents was a U.S. citizen when you were born or both of your parents were U.S. citizens;
  • The nationality of any noncitizen parent;
  • Your legitimacy at birth;
  • The exact dates your U.S. citizen parent(s) lived in the United States before and after you were born; and
  • The exact dates you lived in the United States after you were born.
  • Derivative U.S. Citizenship
  • If you were not automatically a U.S. citizen at birth, you may have derived U.S. citizenship from one or both of your parents. You might have derived U.S. citizenship if you were a permanent resident of the United States and one or both parents became naturalized U.S. citizens you reached the ages of 18 or 21.
  • Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  • If you think you or one of your family members might be a U.S. citizen, please contact us. We can determine whether you were born a U.S. citizen or derived U.S. citizenship as a child and can help you apply for a Certificate of Citizenship through the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and/or apply for a U.S. passport through the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. Citizenship Resources

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