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When Can a Child Receive U.S. Citizenship Through a Parent?

 Posted on May 11, 2023 in Immigration

Plano Naturalization LawyerCitizens of the United States enjoy many benefits. They will be able to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis, and they cannot be forced to leave the country. They can live anywhere they want within the United States, work for U.S. employers, and travel internationally with a U.S. passport. Because of these benefits, the attainment of U.S. citizenship is a goal for many immigrants. Children of U.S. citizens will usually also be eligible for citizenship. While citizenship will automatically be granted if a child is born in the United States, parents may need to take steps to make sure children born in other countries are recognized as citizens.

Citizenship Requirements for Children Born Outside of the U.S.

If at least one of their parents is a U.S. citizen who has established residence in the United States, the child may also be granted citizenship. A child's citizenship will be automatically recognized if the child is younger than 18 years old, the child has a valid Green Card, and the child is living in the U.S. in the custody of a parent who is a U.S. citizen.

A child may be considered to be in the legal and physical custody of a parent if their parents are married, if they live with one parent when the other parent is deceased, if they were born to unmarried parents and have been legally recognized as the child of the parent with whom they reside, or if custody has been awarded to a parent after a divorce or legal separation. If parents share joint custody of a child, this will meet the requirement for legal custody for purposes of U.S. citizenship. To meet the requirement for physical custody, a U.S. citizen parent must be primarily responsible for the child's care.

In cases where a child is living outside the United States and did not automatically acquire citizenship, they may apply for naturalization. To do so, they will need to meet the following requirements:

  • They must be under 18 years old.

  • They must have a parent who is a U.S. citizen through birth or naturalization.

  • They must be living outside of the U.S. while in the legal and physical custody of their U.S. citizen parent. If the parent is deceased, they must be residing with a person who does not object to their naturalization.

  • The U.S. citizen parent must have met the requirements for physical presence in the United States. Typically, a parent must have lived in the U.S., in a U.S. territory, or on U.S. government property (such as a military base in another country) for at least five years, including at least two years after the parent reached the age of 14. Physical presence may include time spent in the U.S. before a parent became a U.S. citizen. If a parent has not met these requirements, a child may still be eligible for naturalization if they have a U.S. citizen grandparent who has met the requirements for physical presence.

  • The child must have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., and they must be physically present in the U.S. at the time of their naturalization. They will be required to maintain a lawful status in the United States until their application is approved.

Contact Our Plano Naturalization Lawyer

The process of obtaining U.S. citizenship can be complicated. While there are situations where children should be automatically recognized as U.S. citizens or should be able to receive citizenship through a parent, it is important to follow the correct procedures when applying for naturalization. If you are looking to take steps to have your child or grandchild recognized as a citizen, Law Office of Jae Lee can provide you with guidance and help you submit the proper forms and documentation. To learn more about how we can assist with these matters, contact our Dallas citizenship attorney at 214-295-3014 and set up a free consultation.


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