USA and the UK
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process where immigrants who are living in the U.S can apply to become American citizens. Children of U.S citizens that have spent their lives abroad are able to apply for citizenship through their citizen parents.
If you were born in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory, it is likely that you already have U.S citizenship. It might be that you don’t realize that you are a U.S citizen, due to spending most of your life abroad. Birthright citizenship is for life unless you decide to renounce your status as a U.S citizen.
If you think you are a citizen but don’t have any documented proof, it is worth applying for a Certificate of Citizenship.
Please note that you are not considered a birthright citizen if you were born in the U.S, but one of your parents was a foreign diplomat.
- What is Naturalization?
- What Are the Benefits of U.S Citizenship?
- What is Naturalization through Parents?
- Eligibility for Citizenship through Parents
- How Do I Apply for Naturalization Through Parents?
- Can Adopted Children Apply for Naturalized Citizenship Through a U.S Citizen Parent?
- How can IAS Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Benefits of U.S Citizenship?
There are many benefits that U.S citizens enjoy, both within the United States and internationally.
Obtaining U.S citizenship allows you to:
- Work and live freely in the U.S without immigration restrictions and without having to acquire visas and work permits
- Be protected from deportation
- Pass your citizen rights along to your children born and living in the U.S who are under 18 years old
- Petition for family reunification, meaning you can petition to have family join you in the United States
- Vote in U.S elections
- Work for the U.S Government
- Apply for a coveted U.S passport
- Gain access to public benefits, such as Medicare.
Naturalization through parents is the process of gaining citizenship through one or both of your parents’ citizenship status. Adult applicants are not eligible for CRBA issuance.
In many cases, naturalization through parents applies to applicants who were a child born abroad and have a foreign birth certificate, but who have at least one parent with U.S citizenship.
Naturalization through parents is split into two categories: acquired naturalization, and derived naturalization.
Citizenship through acquisition means that a person can apply for citizenship if the applicant’s parent was a U.S citizen at the time of the child’s birth abroad.
Citizenship through derivation means that a person can apply for citizenship if the applicant’s parent became a U.S citizen after the birth of the child, but before the child turned 18. In other words, the immigrant parent naturalizes during the period that their child is under the age of 18.
Immigration laws are particularly complicated with regards to applying for citizenship through parents, as laws have changed several times over the course of the century and vary according to when the child was born, when their parents were born or became citizens, or even in some cases are based on when the grandparents became citizens.
We highly recommend speaking with a professional legal advisor to avoid disappointment when applying. Our team of expert legal attorneys are here to help – contact us today online or call us on +1 844 290 6312.
The parent(s) must:
- Have been a U.S citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth
- Have have been significantly ‘physically present’ in the U.S around the time of the applicant’s birth, which can be proven with the following documents:
- Employment records
- Wage and tax statements (W-2)
- Rental receipts
- Academic transcripts
- Documents proving the parent provided honorable U.S military service, or was employed with the U.S government or some form of intergovernmental international organization
- U.S passport stamps (this will not constitute as evidence if it is the sole document being submitted
- Have been the dependent (e.g. spouse) or the child of a member of someone in such military service or government employment as above.
Please note a U.S driving license will not be considered as evidence.
The applicant must prove that they are the biological child of the U.S citizen parent they want to acquire or derive citizenship from, and their relationship must be acknowledged legally. This can be proven with either:
- A signed Acknowledgement of Paternity form
- An Order of Filiation court order.
The applicant, i.e. the child of a U.S citizen, must meet certain legal requirements in order to be eligible for citizenship.
If the applicant’s mother is the U.S national they are gaining citizenship from, then they automatically qualify as a legitimated citizen.
If the applicant is acquiring or deriving citizenship from their U.S citizen father, they are automatically legitimated if their father was legally married to their mother.
In any other circumstance, the applicant must prove their legitimation with the following:
- Proof that paternity was acknowledged in writing and under oath by the U.S citizen father whilst the applicant was under the age of 18 OR the paternity was confirmed by adjudication of a competent court
- Proof that the U.S citizen father agreed to provide financial support under oath until the the applicant turned 18 years old by completing the following forms:
- Affidavit of Parentage, Physical Presence and Support (DS-5507), and
- CRBA application.
If the U.S citizen father died before the applicant’s birthday, then exceptions will be made and other proof will have to be provided. There are also multiple different scenarios of family circumstances that do not fit into the categories above, which makes the application process for citizenship for children more difficult.
You can apply for citizenship through your parents online or you can file by paper.
You will need to submit a completed and signed N-600K form. The form will explain what documentation you need to include, however it is important that you don’t send original copies of evidence unless specifically requested.
After you file, you will receive a notice confirming that your application has been received, and information about the next steps, such as:
- How to provide biometric information, if applicable
- Notice to appear for interview, if applicable
- Notice of the decision
What Documents Do I Need to Apply for Citizenship Through Parents?
The types of documents the applicant should gather in order to complete the application are as follows:
- The applicant’s foreign birth certificate or birth record, with a copy translated into English if it is in a foreign language
- Two recent passport photos
- The birth certificate of the U.S citizen parent(s)
- The naturalization certificate i.e. Certificate of Citizenship of the parent
- Proof of physical presence in the U.S by the citizen parent, or citizen grandparent if applicable
- Proof that the citizen parent was a legal and physical custodian of the child applicant (this should only be required if the parents divorced or separated, or for adopted children)
- Proof that the applicant lived in the physical custody of the citizen parent when they were a child.
Other documents you may need include:
- The citizen parent’s marriage certificate(s)
- Any evidence of the citizen parent’s divorce or separation if applicable
- Proof of legitimate biological relationship, if the parents weren’t married when the applicant was born and they are applying through the U.S citizen father
- Evidence of legal guardianship
- A copy of a I-600 or I-800 form if the applicant is adopted, along with the adoption decree
- Evidence of any legal name changes
- Clarifications or explanations that may have to be included.
If you are an adopted child of a parent who is a U.S citizen or who became a naturalized citizen before you turned 18, then you are likely already a U.S citizen, even if you don’t have a Certificate of Citizenship. This is outlined under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
The application process for naturalization for adoptees 18 years and above is generally the same as the process outlined above regarding biological children. However, legislation differs slightly depending on when you were born, and when your adoptive parent(s) naturalized, if they weren’t born in the U.S themselves.
Acquisition of Citizenship for Adopted Children
According to the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, in order to gain U.S citizenship through acquisition, the adoptee must fit the following criteria:
- Have a U.S citizen parent
- Have been under 18 on February 27, 2001
- The child must have been a Green Card holder – i.e. hold lawful permanent residence in the U.S
- Have been in legal and physical custody of the citizen parents
- Have held an IR-3 visa when they entered the country, which will have granted citizenship
For adoptees who arrived in the US on or after January 20, 2004, they should have received a Certificate of Citizenship within the first 45 days of arriving. If you were not given a Certificate of Citizenship, you can apply for one by completing the Form N-600.
Derivation of Citizenship for Adopted Children
Gaining citizenship through derivation is only an option for adoptees whose adoptive parent naturalized to become a U.S citizen on October 5, 1978 or later.
There are also differences in derivation laws for adoptive parents who became citizens:
- between October 5, 1978 and February 26, 2001, or
- On or after February 27, 2001
If Your Adoptive Parent(s) Became Citizens Between Oct 5, 1978 and Feb 26, 2001
If this category applies to you, then both of your adoptive parents must have been U.S citizens whilst you were in their legal and physical custody. The terms are as follows:
- One of your parents was a U.S Citizen when you were born and remained so throughout your childhood until your 18th birthday, and the other became a citizen between your birth and your 18th birthday, OR
- Both adoptive parents became citizens before your 18th birthday
Other requirements include:
- That the adoptee child was a Green Card holder
- That the U.S citizen parent was your legal and physical custodian (if only one had U.S citizenship)
- You were not married before your 18th birthday
- You were 16 years old or younger before you were adopted, unless you were born between December 29, 1981 and November 14, 1986.
If Your Adoptive Parent(s) Became Citizens On or After Feb 27, 2001
If this category applies to you, you must prove that:
- At least one parent was born a U.S citizen, OR
- At least one parent became a citizen before your 18th birthday.
Other requirements include:
- Proof that you were adopted before your 18th birthday
- Proof that you were not married before you turned 18
- That you were a Green Card holder
- That the U.S citizen parent was your legal and physical custodian (if only one had U.S citizenship).
Many children who were born abroad apply for and gain access to their rights to U.S Citizenship every year. The opportunities and benefits that come with having U.S citizenship are extensive, including having the ability to apply for a U.S passport.
However, the application process isn’t easy, especially if your parents were originally immigrants themselves, as immigration laws have changed several times in the past 50 years, and therefore the fine print of requirements and eligibility criteria can be very confusing. It is also not cheap to apply for citizenship through your U.S citizen parent. We understand that you do not want to make any mistakes in your application process, as this would cost you wasted time and money if it were refused.
That’s where we can help. At IAS, we have a team of expert immigration attorneys who are well-versed in the application process for naturalization through a U.S citizen parent. Contact us today online or call us on +1 844 290 6312, so that we can help you gain your U.S citizenship.
Last modified on May 19th, 2023 at 8:56 am
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Yes, there are lots of other ways that you can apply to become a U.S citizen, so long as you fit the eligibility criteria. You can learn more about how to become a citizen of the United States here.
The filing fee for becoming a U.S citizen through your parents costs $1170. Please note that this is subject to change, and could include additional costs such as document translation, photocopying, or paying for supporting documents that you don’t currently have.