U.S. law, for a long time, includes provisions for children of U.S. citizens to obtain citizenship through American parents even if they were born in the United States. One of the problems that arises when a client wants to know if they have the citizenship of the parents or an American parent is that the answer depends on many factors that form a maze of questions that an immigration lawyer has to ask before he can give a correct answer. Referral/acquisition laws are very complex and have been amended by Congress more or less every ten years. The most recent changes occurred in 1934, 1940, 1952, 1978, 1986, 1994 and 1996. Details that determine the citizenship of a child of an American parent(ren) born outside the United States include:
- Are both Parents American?
- Are they or were they married when the child was born?
- Without being married, did his father recognize the son under the laws of the country of birth?
- Is he an American parent and the other resident of the United States?
- Is he an American parent and the other non-resident of the United States?
- In the case of one American parent and the other non-resident, how old was the American parent when the child was born?
- In the case of one American parent and the other non-resident, did he/she live in the states for a total of ten years?
- In the case of an American parent and the other non-resident, did he/she live in the states for at least 5 years after turning 14?
- Is the father or mother of the child American?
- In what year was the child born?
- At any point, did the child enter the United States?
- If the child entered the United States, did he live in the U.S. for at least 5 years straight after his entry?
- Was the American father outside the U.S. for military service or U.S. government service? USA?
As these questions there are many more depending on the specific case of the child of the American citizen. That is why it is important to consult with an immigration lawyer who knows how to do the analysis of the data correctly to know if the child of the American citizen has or does not have American citizenship. My recommendation is that if you are a child of an American parent(ren), were born outside the United States and would like to know if you have U.S. citizenship, get the following documents and information:
- Birth or naturalization certificate of the American father (or parents).
- Your birth certificate.
- Exact dates of all periods in which the American father lived in the United States.
- Marriage certificate from your parents (if you were married.)
- Document of recognition by the pope of the child. (If applicable.)
When you already have this data, you are ready for a consultation with an immigration attorney. If the lawyer determines that you do have U.S. citizenship, you can get proof of your U.S. citizenship by applying for a U.S. passport. You can also fill out the N-600 form to get a certificate of citizenship. One last thought: In some cases (but very few) if a person had American grandparents and/or American vis-grandparents, it is possible that that person is an American citizen. In these cases, the exact detail of grandparents and great-grandparents is very important. Don’t get your hopes up before you get all the facts and details and consult with an attorney who understands the complicated laws of acquired citizenship.