U.S. Citizenship by birth 

U.S. Citizenship for U.S. citizens child and children born in the U.S.

Anyone born on U.S. soil is automatically a U.S. citizen, through a process called birthright citizenship.  But did you know that children born outside the U.S. can benefit from birthright citizenship, too?  If a child born anywhere in the world has at least one U.S. citizen parent, that child might also be a citizen of the United States at the moment they are born. 

The law on citizenship at birth has changed numerous times in the last 50 years, so anyone born abroad to a U.S. citizen parent should speak with an attorney to determine if they were a citizen at birth, according to the laws in place at the time of their birth abroad. The important factors for any case are:

  • date of birth abroad
  • immigration status of mother and father
  • if parents were married at the time of the child’s birth
  • how long the U.S. citizen parent lived in the U.S. before the baby was born abroad

If a U.S. citizen has a child overseas they should report that birth immediately to the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy, so that they can obtain the legal proof of their child’s citizenship.  While children born in the U.S. receive a birth certificate as their proof of citizenship, children born abroad receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. That document is their proof of citizenship and allows them to apply for a U.S. passport to enter the United States lawfully as a citizen. Children who gain citizenship at birth abroad have all the privileges and immunities of every other U.S. citizen, just as if they had been born inside the United States. 

Many people born abroad don’t realize they are already U.S. citizens because they think that only people born in the United States can gain citizenship at birth.  This is a tragic misconception and many U.S. citizens go years or lifetimes without ever enjoying the benefits and freedoms that come with U.S. citizenship.   

I absolutely love meeting clients who come to me looking for an immigration solution, who are already U.S. citizens but don’t know it. There is nothing more fun than telling someone who is wishing and hoping I can help them get a green card that they don’t in fact need a green card, because they are already a full-fledged, lawful U.S. citizen.  Well…maybe the only thing more fun is seeing the adorable baby photo in the U.S. passport when the U.S. embassy abroad grants my request for citizenship-at-birth-abroad for a brand new baby. I love these cases!

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