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How Does U.S. Citizenship Through Parents Work?

There are two ways to obtain U.S. citizenship through one’s parents. The first is at birth, while the second is after birth but before reaching the age of 18. A person’s parents can include: genetic fathers, genetic mothers, and non-genetic gestational mothers.

In general, a child born outside the U.S. can become a citizen at birth if:

  • Both of their parents were married to each other at the time of their birth and at least one of the parents lived in the U.S. before the child’s birth.
  • One parent is a citizen at the time of birth and the child’s birthdate is on or after November 14, 1986. The parent who is a U.S. citizen must have physically been in the U.S for at least 5 years before the birth. Serving in the armed forces, being employed with the U.S. government, or being employed by international organizations can count towards the parent’s physical presence in the country.

If the child’s parents aren’t married at the time of birth, they can become citizens if:

  • The genetic or non-genetic gestational legal mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth. The birth date must have been after December 23, 1952 and the mother has to have been physically present in the U.S. for at least one year.
  • The genetic father is a citizen at the time of birth and the mother is an alien. The child’s birthdate must be on or after November 14, 1986. There needs to be blood relationship between the father and offspring that has been established with clear and convincing evidence. Unless the father is deceased, written proof of finical responsibly for the child until they reach the age of 18 has to be provided.

Along with the ways we have mentioned above, there are other methods and criteria for a person to obtain citizenship through their parents. Contact our San Jose team of immigration attorneys to find out more today.