There are different paths to follow for the acquisition of citizenship in the United States. While adults can adjust their status through naturalization, minors can get U.S. citizenship through parents.

As a general rule, there are three different ways to become a U.S. citizen:

  • By being born in the U.S. or one of its territories (birthright citizenship);
  • By being born to parents who already are U.S. citizens (acquisition of citizenship);
  • When one of the parents gets naturalization (derivation of citizenship).

Your children can either become a U.S. citizen at birth or later in their life. You can transmit your citizenship status to them regardless of the way you got it (by birth or naturalization).

Minors cannot become naturalized citizens on their own. Consequently, an adult must sign their petition. Alternatively, they can wait until the age of 18 to file their own application. Citizenship through parents is not time-sensitive, meaning it can be sought at any time in your life.

Acquisition of citizenship: how IAS can help you

Citizenship acquisition is regulated by complex guidelines. There are several sensitive circumstances, and every case is different. Subsequently, it may be complicated to understand how to proceed to get your citizenship by derivation.

IAS is a group of experienced immigration lawyers who are happy to assist you. One of our qualified advisers will answer all your questions about your eligibility and discuss your concerns.

We can guide you through every step of your application process and help you and your children. Get in touch today to learn more about how to get citizenship through parents or by birth. You can call us or use our online application form.


Who is a derived citizen?

If you are a citizen of the United States and your children are born abroad, they can be eligible to derived U.S. citizenship.

Conditions to get citizenship through parents may vary based on several factors. This includes:

  • Your marital status;
  • Your physical residence in the United States at the time of application;
  • Whether your child was born in or out of wedlock;
  • Whether your child is adopted or legitimated by you.

Who is eligible for acquisition of citizenship?

The U.S. Congress has set a series of conditions to determine who is eligible for naturalization through parents. As a general rule, to fall into the legal definition of “child”, you must be:

  • Under the age of 18;
  • Unmarried and not be living an independent life;
  • The genetic or adopted legitimated son or daughter of a U.S. citizen OR;
  • The child of a non-genetic gestational U.S. citizen mother, who is recognized as a legal parent.

Stepchildren are usually not eligible for derived citizenship, except for particular exceptions. If you are in doubts, our immigration experts can review and assess your situation.

In general, USCIS considers as legal guardians the parents included in the birth certificate. This document is the only appropriate record used to determine the relationship between you and your children.

I am a U.S. citizen. Will my children automatically get citizenship?

Children born in the United States from at least one U.S. citizen automatically gain citizenship through acquisition. This applies even if they were born on foreign soil.

If you wish to adopt foreign-born children, they may still claim U.S. citizenship. However, the law on the acquisition of citizenship is quite complex, since it takes into account several factors. For this reason, it is always advisable to seek an immigration expert. Your lawyer will follow you through your adoption path, making sure that the right of your children will be respected.

My children are born in the United States. Are they U.S. citizens?

The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the so-called “birthright citizenship”. It states that all person born or naturalized in the country. are automatically U.S. citizens. This is a lifelong right unless you or your children file an oath to renunciate your status.

Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions. For example, children born to foreign diplomats will not receive citizenship even if they are born on American soil.

What is derived citizenship for children living in the U.S.?

If your children were born abroad but now live in the U.S., they may automatically acquire citizenship through parents. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, to be eligible, they must meet the following requirements:

  • At least one of the parents is a U.S. citizen;
  • They must already beU.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Residing in the country in the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent.

Can children residing abroad get citizenship through derivation?

Children of U.S. citizens residing abroad can still obtain derived naturalization. However, there are specific conditions to meet:

  • At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen;
  • Your child is under the legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent;
  • Your child is physically and lawfully present in the U.S. at the time of the application.

The derived citizenship process for children residing abroad must be completed in the U.S. Nevertheless, military members residing outside the country may submit your application form abroad.

I am applying for U.S. Naturalization. Will my child get citizenship, too?

A child may get naturalization in the United States if at least one of the parents become a U.S. citizen.

However, this process is only valid for children who meet the following requirements:

  • Be under the age of 18;
  • Already hold a Green Card (or Permanent Residence Permit);
  • Be living with the naturalized parent.

If your children wish to get naturalization through this process, they do not have to attend a citizenship test.

Children who are already over the age of 18 need to file a separate petition to get U.S. citizenship or naturalization through parents.

How to apply for U.S. citizenship through parents?

You can submit your application for derived citizenship online or by paper. In both cases, you must complete the Form N-600 (Application for Certificate of Citizenship).

Before your application can be processed, you must pay your filing fee. Naturalization through parents usually costs $1,170, but the fees may vary if you need your biometrics to be collected.

Do not forget to upload or post your evidence. By doing this, you will prove your relationship with your children and demonstrate your state as a U.S. citizen. It is important to note that the USCIS is not going to consider your application in the case of missing documents.

If you are applying by paper, but you still wish to receive an e-Notification about your petition status, you must file the Form G-1145.

In some cases, the USCIS may decide to summon you for an interview. This will help the officer assess your eligibility and ask for further documentation that you did not attach to your petition.

If the application is approved, your eligible children over the age of 14 will be scheduled to appear to take an Oath of Allegiance.

Can my child apply for U.S. naturalization on his or her own?

Applicants who wish to become naturalized U.S. citizens must be at least 18 years old. For this reason, minor children are not allowed to petition for themselves or their non-U.S. parents.

Only applicants who are at least 18 can file and sign a Form N-600. If you are applying for your minor children, you need to sign their petition. You are also required to submit their birth certificates and other proofs of kinship.

I wish to apply for naturalized or derived citizenship. Can IAS help me?

Getting U.S. citizenship is a complex process, that may take years. For this reason, once you get this status, you may wish to ensure that your children can live freely in the country as well.

Based on the circumstances, your children can get U.S. citizenship through derivation or naturalization. If you are unsure about how to proceed, one of our best lawyers is ready to help.

As a part of our bespoke service, we offer:

  • A complete assessment of your case;
  • Guidance on how to complete your Form N-600;
  • Help you gather your supporting evidence;
  • Liaison with the Home Office;
  • Liaison with your family members who live abroad;
  • Complete support through every step of your application.

Call us on +1844 390 6312 or ask for a free call back from one of our immigration experts.

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