Automatic Acquisition after Birth
There are many pathways to obtaining U.S. citizenship, including automatically acquiring U.S. citizenship after birth. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), children born abroad may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship after birth if certain transmittal requirements are met.
According to INA § 320, a child born outside of the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen when all of the following conditions have been met:
- The person is a child of a parent who is a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization (including an adoptive parent);
- The child is under 18 years of age;
- The child is a lawful permanent resident (LPR); and
- The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
This scenario is very common when you have a family of LPRs and one or both parents successfully complete the naturalization process. Assuming the child meets the remaining three criteria, the child will automatically become a U.S. citizen following their parent(s) naturalization. Another situation where we commonly see this scenario play out is when a U.S. citizen parent sponsors their child for a green card, the complete the two-step green card process outside the U.S., and upon entry to the U.S. with their U.S. citizen parent(s), they will satisfy all the requirements and automatically become a U.S. citizen.
Apply for a Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) or a U.S. Passport (DS-11)
A person who automatically obtains U.S. citizenship is not required to file an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600). A person who seeks documentation of U.S. citizenship, however, must submit Form N-600 to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS. A Certificate of Citizenship is not a travel document, it is merely evidence of a person’s U.S. citizenship. A person may also apply for a U.S. passport with the U.S. Department of State to serve as evidence of U.S. citizenship, as well as a travel document.