Orange Immigration Law Office                Anaheim, Orange County, California 714-627-2475       Wolf W. Kaufmann,  Immigration Attorney                                 email:

United States Citizenship

For most immigrants, the final dream is to become a citizen of the United States. Here we want to show you the ways to gain citizenship:

1. Citizenship by birth in the United States

Every child born in the United States, with only very few exceptions, is automatically a citizen of the U.S. Even children born to alien parents, even to illegal aliens, are citizens if they are born on U.S. territory.

2. Citizenship by birth abroad to American parents:

A. The child is automatically a citizen if it is under 18 years old and now lives as a permanent legal resident in the United States, in physical and legal custody of the citizen parent.

B. Children born abroad but not living in the U.S. as legal permanent residents are also automatically citizens when both parents are U.S. citizens and have at some time lived in the U.S.

3. Citizenship by birth to one American and one alien parent, and the child is not living in the United States as a legal permanent resident:

Here things tend to become complicated. There is a great variety of regulations and the citizenship status of the child depends on when he or she was born and who the American parent is: mother or father and whether the parents were married at the time of birth or not:

Rules for children born after 11/13/1986 (please ask us for older persons):

    (A) Both parents are married and one parent is an American citizen:

      The child is an American citizen...

      -if the American parent has lived in the U.S. at least 5 years before the child’s birth, two of those years must have been when the parent was 14 years or older.

      (B) The parents were not married at birth of the child and the mother is the U.S. citizen:

      The child will be a citizen if the mother lived at least one year in the U.S. before the birth of the child.

    (C) The parents were not married at birth of the child and the father is the U.S. citizen:

      The child will only be a citizen if:

        -the father has lived at least 5 years in the U.S. before birth of the child and 2 of them after he was 14 years old, and there is proof of a blood relationship between father and child and the paternity must have been acknowledged before the child was 18 years old and the father must have declared in writing that he would support the child or show other evidence of a supporting relationship before the child was 18.

         Service in the U.S. Armed Forces abroad counts as “presence in the U.S.” Because citizenship status of children of unmarried U.S. citizen fathers tends to be a complex issue and needs extensive documentation, you should obtain a consultation if you would like to establish your citizenship in such a case.

     Citizenship by naturalization

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