The Child Citizenship Act became law on February 26, 2001. This means that a foreign national who is 18 years old or younger on or after this date is able to derive US citizenship from his or her parent.

Derivation v. Acquisition

Foreign nationals interested in applying for naturalization to become American citizens are advised to first confirm if they have not yet obtained United States citizenship through acquisition or derivation. While seemingly interchangeable, these two terms refer to two different circumstances. For clarity, acquisition applies to individuals who were born to an American citizen. Meanwhile, derivation applies to children under 18 years of age as a former alien who has become a US citizen.

Which Foreigners Are Eligible for Citizenship Derivation?

These are the main requirements for somebody to derive citizenship to the United States from his or her citizen parent. He or she must be:

  • Below 18 years old.
  • Not married.
  • A green card holder with legal permanent resident status.
  • Already stateside, in the physical and legal custody of the US citizen parent.

When children do not possess all of the requirements to derive American citizenship, they can take steps to ensure that they meet all the eligibility requirements. For instance, they may apply for green cards if they are not yet legal permanent residents, or they may come to the United States to reside with their parents if they are still outside the United States.

As for children who transition into independent adulthood before their parents become citizens, they may still be allowed to derive citizenship if they can prove that they used to simultaneously satisfy all the above requirements.

Those who became Americans through derivation need not fear the loss of citizenship. This is not going to happen unless they choose to renounce it.

Derivation for Illegitimate Children

derivation of citizenshipThe aforementioned rules apply to the biological children of somebody who has become a citizen. If a naturalized citizen happens to have adopted or illegitimate children, they may still derive citizenship and change their nationality. They just have more details and additional requirements to deal with.

If a father with an illegitimate child has become a citizen of the United States, he should have legitimated his child before he or she turned 16. Ways of legitimating children vary per country, but these are the usually acceptable practices:

  • Putting his signature on the child’s birth certificate.
  • Being registered as the child’s father in their homeland’s birth records.
  • Issuing a signed paternity statement.
  • Ensuring that he’s married to the child’s mother within a certain period of time relative to the child’s birth.
  • Guaranteeing child support provision.
  • Undergoing DNA testing to prove paternity.
  • Representing to other people that he is the father of the child.

Getting Documentation

Aliens who were able to derive citizenship from their parents become US citizens automatically without legal papers to prove the transition. If they want tangible proof attesting to their US citizenship status, they should get their Certificate of Citizenship from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Doing so will make it easier for them to receive the citizenship and naturalization privileges they’ve become entitled to when they became American citizens. These include access to a US passport.

Need Help with Naturalization and Citizenship Matters? Consult a Virginia Immigration Attorney Today!

Those aiming to become naturalized citizens of the United States should look into their options for immigration and naturalization. US immigration laws can be complex, so it’s best to get advice from an attorney who specializes in immigration law.

What is your immigration concern? Do you want to ensure legal immigration status? Get a permanent resident card? Stop deportation? It is important to get legal assistance to help you navigate these legal processes.

If becoming a citizen is your goal, you want to do what you can to more smoothly get to the point of attending the naturalization ceremony to take your oath of allegiance and receive your naturalization certificate. Going through the naturalization process with legal guidance gives you this advantage. If you want legal aid as you work toward becoming a US citizen, call us at the law office of Jeffrey Van Doren and schedule an appointment with an experienced Virginia immigration lawyer.