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How Can Children Qualify for Derivative Citizenship? 

How Can Children Qualify for Derivative Citizenship? 


The citizenship process is inherently complex, and it becomes even more complicated when additional countries and nationalities become involved, such as when you have a baby abroad or a child who remains a citizen of another country. However, there are situations in which children inherit your United States citizenship. It is important to understand though that just because a child is eligible to inherit your citizenship (known as derivative citizenship), that does not mean you will not have to do anything to secure them a passport and social security number. It is always important to do your research as soon as possible or to consult with an immigration attorney to determine exactly what actions need to be taken to obtain citizenship for your children without unnecessary delays. 

Eligibility for Derivative Citizenship

In order to be eligible for derivative citizenship as a child, the individual must be under 18 years of age, and must be the biological or adopted child of at least one United States citizen (they may have obtained citizenship through either birth or naturalization). If the child is residing in the United States, they must be a lawful permanent resident in the custody of the parent who is a U.S. citizen. Even if the child lived overseas before, if they are now living in the United States they may acquire citizenship through section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. If the child is still living overseas or spends substantial amounts of time living overseas, they may still qualify for U.S. citizenship if they have a parent or grandparent who is a U.S. citizen and meets the physical presence requirements within the United States. The child must also be residing outside of the United States with a U.S. citizen parent, and must be physically present in the U.S. when the citizenship application is approved and when they are naturalized. They qualify for citizenship under section 322 of the Immigration Nationality Act. 

Derivative Citizenship for Children of Service and Military Members

If you are in the military and are stationed abroad at the time you have a child, do not assume that your child is automatically a U.S. citizen. Even if they are born on a U.S. military base, they are not automatically assumed to be U.S. citizens. Military members must still complete the process of petitioning for citizenship of their child; however, it is possible for them to complete the entire process rather easily and from overseas. Unlike other applicants, they and their children do not have to be physically present in the United States to have their application approved. 

Schedule a Consultation With the Sverdloff Law Group

If you need assistance with an immigration-related matter, such as obtaining citizenship for your child, the experienced immigration attorneys at Chicago’s Sverdloff Law Group are ready to help come up with the best strategy for your case and to fight to secure a positive outcome. Contact the Sverdloff Law Group today to schedule a consultation. 


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