If you were born outside of the U.S., how can your acquire US citizenship through your parents or grandparents?
What if you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents? You probably are a U.S. citizen, but you need to get some paperwork to prove this. Or what if you were born abroad and only one of your parents was a U.S. citizen at the time? That’s a little trickier. How do you determine if you “acquired” U.S. citizenship at birth through a parent, or if you obtained derivative citizenship as a minor through your parent(s)? We simplify the complex laws regarding acquisition and derivation of US citizenship through parents and grandparents so that they are understandable to non-lawyers.
There are 4 Nationality Charts that attorneys use to assist them in such cases. These charts are difficult to find on the USCIS website so we replicate them here so that you can use them to begin your research.
Derivative citizenship laws are one of the most complex areas of immigration law, and Congress has amended these laws multiple times. Fortunately, Attorney Shusterman spent several years as an INS Citizenship Attorney in the 1970s adjudicating N-600 derivative citizenship applications. This experience proved invaluable. Since he entered private practice in 1982, he has helped hundreds of clients obtain U.S. citizenship through their parents and grandparents.
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“Mr. Shusterman and his law firm have represented my family and me very successfully. He is not only a legal guru in all things immigration but even more so he is an exceptional human being because he empathizes with his clients and cares that justice is done.”
- Maria Davari Knapp, Chicago, Illinois
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Some of these clients were in deportation proceedings, and would have been deported if Attorney Shusterman not been able to prove that they were U.S. citizens even though they were born abroad.
There are multiple strategies for proving that you are a U.S. citizen even though you were not born in the U.S. You may want to apply for a U.S. passport, or alternately, you can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS using form N-600.
US Citizenship Through Parents or Grandparents contains the following topics:
- General Information
- Nationality Charts
- Success Stories
- Child Citizenship
- Citizenship Through Parents Video
- Citizenship Through Parents: Additional Resources
GENERAL INFORMATION – DERIVATIVE CITIZENSHIP
- Obtaining Citizenship Through Parents: A Step-by-Step Guide
- USCIS Policy Manual, Chapter 2: Definition of Child for Citizenship and Naturalization (USCIS) (Updated 10-28-14)
- USCIS Expands the Definition of “Mother” and “Parent” to Include Gestational Mothers Using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) (USCIS) (10-28-14)
- USCIS Policy Alert: Effect of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) on Immigration and Acquisition of
Citizenship Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) (USCIS) (10-28-14)
- Policy Guidance: Changes to Dates of Birth and Names on Certificates of Citizenship (USCIS) (6-17-14)
- Effect of Grandparent’s Death on Naturalization under INA Section 322 (USCIS) (4-17-03)
- Eligibility of Children Born out of Wedlock for Derivative Citizenship (USCIS) (9-26-03)
- Nationality Chart #1 (USCIS) – Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship of Children Born Abroad in Wedlock
- Nationality Chart #2 (USCIS) – Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship of Children Born Abroad Out of Wedlock
- Nationality Chart #3 (USCIS) – Derivative Citizenship of Children
- Nationality Chart #4 (USCIS) – Section 322 Natural or Adoptive Child of a U.S. Citizen
- Obtaining Citizenship Through Parents, Grandparents & Great-Grandparents (Part I)
- Obtaining Citizenship Through Parents, Grandparents & Great-Grandparents (Part II)
- U.S. Citizenship Based on Your Ancestors (June 2006)
- US Citizenship: Laws and Policies (State Department)
- Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (USCIS)
- The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (State Department)
- Nguyen vs. INS Supreme Court Upholds Gender-Based Distinctions In Derivative Citizenship Law (6-11-01)
CITIZENSHIP THROUGH PARENTS VIDEO
- How to Obtain Citizenship Through Your Parents and Grandparents
This video explains how to obtain U.S. citizenship through your U.S. citizen parents or grandparents, known as derivative citizenship.
Citizenship Through Parents: Additional Resources
What Can We Help You With - Videos
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening an 8 attorney firm specializing in immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.
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