U.S. Citizenship Through Your Parents

Proof of U.S. citizenship is a requirement for all U.S. Passport applications. If you were born in the U.S., then your birth certificate will be enough to prove citizenship. If you were naturalized as a U.S. citizen, then your naturalization paperwork will suffice. However, there are other circumstances that exist that you are a U.S. citizen and you will have to show proof of that in order to secure your passport.


U.S. Citizenship Through Your Parents

Most U.S. citizens become U.S. citizens when they are born in the United States. If you were born overseas to a U.S. citizen parent (or parents) you will “acquire” U.S. citizenship based on your parent’s citizenship. A green card holder can also become a U.S. citizen later in life by naturalizing as a U.S. citizen. Naturalization is based on time spent in the U.S. as a permanent resident and having met other eligibility criteria through the application process. Obtaining U.S. citizenship through your parents is a complicated procedure. A child who ‘derives’ their citizenship through their parent is automatically a U.S. citizen. They do not have to file an application for citizenship. However, for a passport application, you will be required to provide Proof of Citizenship.


The information below explains how a child gets citizenship when a parent naturalizes. There are two scenarios based on the date of February 27, 2001.


Children not yet 18 on February 27, 2001.

U.S. citizenship is granted for those that fit these requirements:
At least one parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization.
The child is unmarried and not yet age 18.
The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent

 The child is a permanent resident.

Children already age 18 on February 27, 2001.

U.S. citizenship is granted for those that fit these requirements:
The other parent was or became a U.S. citizen before the child turned 18.
The child was born illegitimate and the parent naturalized was the mother.
The child’s other parent was deceased.
The parents were divorced or separated and the parent being naturalized had legal custody of the child following the divorce or separation.

If you are now over 18 years old, you can apply using Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. If you are under 18 and you live abroad, your parent should file another application on your behalf, Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322. These can be downloaded for free on the Forms page of the USCIS website.


Special Circumstances for Passport Applicants

The USCIS Certificate of Citizenship is not necessarily required in order to get a U.S. passport. U.S. citizens may obtain their U.S. passports using documentation such as a parent’s naturalization certificate, the applicant’s birth certificate and the applicant’s permanent resident card. The U.S. State Department requires original documents, though original documents will be returned with the new passport.


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