Are You Already a U.S. Citizen?
There are instances where an individual is not certain if they are a U.S. Citizen. This is because there are several ways to become a United States Citizen and sometimes the answer is not always so clear.
Most people become U.S. Citizens because they were born in the United States. Many foreign nationals can become a U.S. Citizen by going through the process of naturalization. If the individual was born to U.S. Citizen parents outside of the U.S., then they are most likely a U.S. Citizen through a process known as “derivation.” Finally, a person might be a citizen if one or both of their parents underwent the process of naturalization.
What Documents are Accepted as Proof of U.S. Citizenship?
- Birth Certificate
- Certificate of Citizenship
- Naturalization Certificate
How Do I Know if I have Obtained Citizenship through Derivation?
According to the USCIS under INA 301 and 309, a person who is born outside of the United States may acquire citizenship at birth if:
- The person has at least one parent who is a U.S. Citizen; and
- The U.S. Citizen parent meets certain residence or physical presence requirements in the United States or an outlying possession prior to the person’s birth in accordance with the pertinent provision.
The residence and physical presence requirements for the U.S. Citizen parent means that they must have resided in the U.S. for at least five years before the child was born and that at least two of those five years were after the U.S. Citizen parent’s fourteenth birthday. If the U.S. Citizen parent did not meet the residency requirements, there are some instances where the residency of a U.S. Citizen grandparent’s may be considered for derivation of citizenship.
If I Believe that I Derived Citizenship at Birth, How Do I Prove it?
A person who believes they meet the criteria for derivation of U.S. Citizenship should not go about the pathway of naturalization by completing the N-400. Instead, to prove their U.S. Citizenship, they must obtain a consular report of their birth abroad. Also known as a CRBA (Form FS-240), this form is an official document which certifies that an individual who was born outside of the U.S. has derived citizenship through their birth abroad to a U.S. Citizen parent. A CRBA can be issued after successfully submitting Form DS-2029, Application for Consular Report of Birth Abroad.
It is important to note that a CRBA is generally issued to individuals who were born abroad and who are under the age of eighteen. If the individual is older than eighteen and believe that they derived U.S. Citizenship at birth, they may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by using Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. In the alternative, an individual over the age of eighteen might also consider applying for a U.S. passport instead of the N-600 since the process could be quicker and a U.S. Passport also serves as a travel document.
Determining U.S. Citizenship is not always as easy as it seems and sometimes it may take a thorough legal analysis to reach a proper answer. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist you with your inquiries.