Acquired or Derivative U.S. Citizenship

Some individuals do not need to apply for naturalization to become U.S. citizens. In fact, some individuals may be U.S. citizens and not know it! Citizenship can be acquired by birth abroad if certain requirements are met. Citizenship can also be derived by someone (usually a minor) through the naturalization of a parent. Individuals who are automatically citizens through the operation of law should apply to USCIS for a Certificate of Citizenship. Such individuals may also apply directly to the Department of State (DOS) for a U.S. passport, but we always recommend that you obtain a Certificate of Citizenship as well, as USCIS will otherwise have no record that you are a citizen.

A common way in which many young new citizens acquire their status is under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA). Under the CCA, which went into effect on February 27, 2001, any child under 18 automatically acquires U.S. citizenship if the following requirements are met:

  • At least one parent is U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization
  • Child is residing in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent
  • Child is lawfully admitted for permanent residence

The laws governing the requirements for acquired/derived citizenship have changed many times over the years. They are complicated and often depend on many different factors, including marital status of parents, physical presence in the U.S., laws of legitimation, etc. Therefore it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to determine whether the circumstances of your birth or parent’s naturalization qualify you for status as a U.S. citizen.

How We Can Help

  • We thoroughly investigate your family's history and the laws relevant to your time and place of birth.
  • If you have a viable claim to U.S. citizenship, we prepare Form N-600 and all supporting documentation for filing with USCIS.
  • If your case is improperly denied, we can file an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).

We welcome you to contact the Brian M. Wang | Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to schedule a consultation about how we may be of service in your immigration matter. Based in the Albany, NY Capital District area, we assist clients throughout New York, in all 50 states, and worldwide with United States immigration law.

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