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What is U.S. citizenship through derivation?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2024 | Immigration

As children of U.S. citizens, the dream of becoming an American is within your reach through derivative citizenship. This legal avenue allows you to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship from your parents. It grants you the full rights and privileges of being an American citizen.

However, there are certain conditions for derivative citizenship.

This path is only available before you turn 18. There are also specific eligibility requirements based on your parents’ citizenship status and residency history that must be met. If your parents qualify, you may be able to derive citizenship before 18.

Residency requirements for derivative citizenship

While you can derive citizenship even if living outside the U.S., there are still strict residency requirements you must meet, including:

  • If at least one of your parents becomes a U.S. citizen before you turn 18. That parent must have resided permanently in the U.S. for at least five years. At least two of those five years must be after age 14 and before you turn 18.
  • If you are a permanent resident residing in the U.S. lawfully. You must have been a permanent resident for at least five years. At least two of those five years must be after age 14.
  • If you are residing in the United States as a permanent resident when applying. You must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years by the time you apply. At least two of those years must be after age 14.

Once confirmed that you meet these initial criteria, you are automatically eligible for derivative citizenship.

Applying for U.S. citizenship

Applying for a certificate of citizenship involves strict documentation requirements and deadlines that must be satisfied. It’s important that you show evidence proving the validity of each of your parents’ U.S. citizenship status and residency history. Official documents like birth certificates, passports and residence records can strengthen your derivative citizenship claim.

This applies to your eligibility as well. You must provide proof of your own birth details and immigration status.

Failure to properly support you and your parents’ eligibility could result in delays or denials. So, thoroughly demonstrating all parties meet the requirements is crucial.

Consider working with an attorney experienced in immigration law. An attorney can help demonstrate your eligibility, gather required evidence and work with you through any delays or denials.