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Under the 14th Amendment, all persons born in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction are citizens. The term “United States” includes Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. A birth certificate is proof of citizenship. Nationals cannot pass nationality to offspring, but may file an I-130 to classify children for immigration under the family-sponsored preferences.
Additionally, certain individuals born outside the United States will acquire citizenship upon their birth. Acquisition is dependent upon the date of the child’s birth, whether one or both parents are U.S. citizens and, if one, which parent, and whether the birth was in or out of wedlock.
Children born outside the United States who have not acquired citizenship at birth may derive citizenship upon the naturalization of one or both parents.
A child derives citizenship if one parent is a U.S. citizen, by birth or by naturalization, and the child is under 18, is a Lawful Permanent Resident, and is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent. Stepchildren are not eligible for such consideration under this law.
Naturalization of Children Born Outside the United States upon Application
Filed by Parents
Some children who do not acquire or derive citizenship automatically through their parents may still be able to obtain naturalization without first becoming permanent residents.