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Derivative Citizenship

The process of becoming a U.S. citizen can be difficult, long, and grueling. However, some may be surprised to learn that they are already U.S. citizens. Those that were or are children (under 18) of a foreign national that became naturalized may already be citizens under the rules of the Child Citizenship Act. That’s right, you may already be a U.S. citizen. If you meet one of the many qualifications for derivative citizenship, you must go through the process of showing proof of your citizenship by applying for a Certificate of Citizenship. This will allow you to obtain a passport as well as the many other benefits of U.S. citizenship. Though this process is much easier than the traditional path of becoming a citizen, it can still be a difficult path to trek alone. Understanding how/if your situation qualifies for the derivation of citizenship requires more than just looking at a derivative citizenship chart and making a determination. Your specific situation will be determined by when your parents became naturalized, how old you were, and what year it occurred. For those that turned 18 before 2001, you may find it a bit more difficult to obtain (but not impossible). Give the immigration attorneys at Florida Immigration Law Counsel a call to discuss the details of your case today. 

Who Qualifies For Derivative Citizenship?

You must meet a number of requirements to be eligible for derivative citizenship. Though you do not need to immediately satisfy all requirements on the derivative citizenship chart, there are quite a few that must be fulfilled. Learn more about the general qualifications for derivative citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 below. 

  • You must be unmarried and under the age of 18
  • At least one of your parents must be a current U.S citizen
  • You must have a green card
  • Required to currently be in the U.S. and in the physical and legal custody of the parent that is a U.S. citizen

It is important to note that the aforementioned rules apply to those that are biological children of naturalized U.S. citizens. However, children that are adopted may still be eligible for the derivation of citizenship. Furthermore, if you are currently over 18, but your parents became citizens and you were in their custody while residing in the U.S. before you turned 18, you may have already obtained derivative citizenship and just need to prove it. 

How Derivative Citizenship is Different Than Acquisition of Citizenship

Any child that was not born in the U.S. but one or both of their parents are U.S. citizens may already be a citizen depending on the circumstances. If both parents are U.S. citizens, the child will be automatically granted citizenship. In some instances, there are residency requirements that must be met in order for the child to qualify for automatic acquisition of citizenship. In comparison, those that qualify for derivative citizenship are born to a parent or parent that was a foreign national and eventually became a U.S. citizen through naturalization. Since the laws have changed so much, it can be confusing to understand where your place is on the derivative citizenship chart. Give our attorneys a call to discuss the specifics of your situation. 

What is the Child Citizenship Act?

In 2000, the U.S. Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA). This piece of legislation makes it possible for foreign-born children of parents (that were naturalized before the child turned 18) to automatically become U.S. citizens as long as certain requirements are met. Those that would otherwise qualify but turned 18 before the CCA was passed, may still be eligible for derivative citizenship. However, there are other qualifications that they must meet. 

Showing Proof of American Citizenship

If you were born outside of the U.S., you must show proof of citizenship to qualify for derivative citizenship. The evidence that you need will depend on the law that was enacted when you were born and/or before you became 18. In many cases, you can obtain recognition of your citizenship by getting a Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600) or a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (Form FS-240). Depending on the marriage status of your parents, showing proof of citizenship is not always easy. Working with a seasoned immigration attorney can help you to identify and obtain the evidence of citizenship that you need. 

Connecting With a Derivative Citizenship Attorney

You can certainly use a derivative citizenship chart on your own to learn what you need to do to obtain derivative citizenship status and/or if it applies to your situation. However, the laws have changed so much that it can be difficult for someone to gain an in-depth understanding of the immigration laws surrounding derivative citizenship by themselves. Connecting with an adept and experienced immigration attorney can help to make the process more clear. Give our attorneys at Florida Immigration Law Counsel a call to discuss the specifics of your case today. 

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