Options to Get U.S. Citizenship for Your Child

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Options to Get U.S. Citizenship for Your Child

There are three main ways under U.S. immigration law that a U.S. citizen or immigrant parent can potentially utilize to obtain citizenship for their child, and these are the acquisition of citizenship, derivation of citizenship, and application for citizenship under Section 322. At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC we have experienced family immigration lawyers who help clients in the Chicago area to obtain citizenship for their foreign-born children. We are based in Chicago but also provide services in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship from U.S. Citizen Parents at Birth

If you or your spouse or both are U.S. citizens and your biological child was born abroad, your child may automatically “acquire” U.S. citizenship and will, therefore, not need to apply for citizenship.

For a biological child to automatically acquire citizenship, the law requires that the U.S. citizen parent or parents must have been physically present or resided in the U.S. for certain periods of time prior to the birth of the child for U.S. citizenship to automatically “transmit” to the child. 

The period of physical presence or residence required varies depending on when the child was born, as different rules apply depending on when the child was born. For purposes of this blog, we’re assuming that your child was born recently, meaning within the last 18 years, or will be born soon.

U.S. Citizenship by Derivation from Naturalizing Parents

If you are an immigrant eligible to obtain naturalization and your child was born outside the United States, your child may be able to “derive” naturalization through your own naturalization application. This option is also available to children who have been adopted so long as you and your adopted child meet certain requirements.

As in the case of the acquisition of citizenship, there are different requirements for a child to derive citizenship through a naturalizing parent, depending on when your child was born. Some of these requirements were removed in 2000, when Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act, a law that streamlined and provided the latest requirements as to when a child can derive citizenship.

U.S. Citizenship by Application Under I.N.A. Section 322

If you are naturalized as a citizen or are in the process of doing so and your foreign-born child is in the U.S. in some status other than as a green card holder, then your child is not eligible to derive citizenship if you naturalize. However, there is a way you can still pursue citizenship for your child in this situation.

Under Section 322 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (I.N.A.) (or 8 U.S.C. Section 1433), a naturalizing parent can obtain a Certificate of Citizenship for a child who meets these requirements:

  1. One parent is a U.S. citizen.
  2. The child is legally but temporarily lives in the United States.
  3. The child is not older than 18 years of age.
  4. The child lives outside the U.S. in the physical and legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent; and
  5. The U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the U.S. for at least five years, two of which were after the parent turned 14 years old.

Consult with a Chicago Immigration Attorney

If you are a U.S. citizen or immigrant parent and wish to have your foreign-born child gain or claim citizenship, speak with the team at Kriezelman Burton & Associates, LLC. Please contact our offices today and schedule an appointment to discuss your situation and how we can help you.