Derivative US Citizenship for Children through their Parents

The Derivative US Citizenship chart below shows how a child born abroad who immigrates to the United States as a minor, and whose parent(s) become naturalized citizens of the US before the child reaches a certain age may derive US citizenship. The applicable laws changed in 1934, 1940, 1952, 1978 and 2001.

Attorney Carl Shusterman served as a Citizenship Attorney for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) from 1976 to 1980 during which time, he decided hundreds of such applications (N-600s) for US citizenship.

We hope that the Derivative US Citizenship chart below helps you to determine whether you, or your child, obtained US citizenship by derivation as a minor.

 

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A child may derive U.S. citizenship during the below listed historical periods if such child was under the statutory age AND a) the child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence AND b) the parent(s) naturalized. It does not matter in which order the actions occurred.
Period in which last action took place. Child became a LPR before the statutory age of: Naturalization of parent(s) prior to the statutory age of the child. Remarks
Prior to 5/24/34 21 years Either parent NONE
On/after 5/24/34 & prior to 1/13/41 21 years Either parent U.S. citizenship effective 5 years from date child became a LPR.**
Both parents* NONE
On/after 1/13/41 & prior to 12/24/52 18 years Both parents* Child born out of wedlock derived on 12/14/52 if under the age of 16 and had remained an LPR.
On/after 12/24/52 & prior to 10/5/78 18 years Both parents* Child unmarried
On/after 10/5/78 & prior to 2/27/01 18 years Both parents* Child unmarried Includes child adopted before age 16 who must be residing with the adoptive parent(s) at time of their naturalization.
On/after 2/27/01 18 years One parent by birth or naturalization. Child is residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of the USC parent. Applies to an adopted child of a USC; must meet §101(b)(1) INA adopted child requirements.

 

*The definition of both parents includes:
a. The surviving parent should one die, OR
b. The parent having legal custody where there has been a legal separation or divorce, OR
c. The alien parent who naturalizes when the other parent is already a USC, OR
d. The mother of a child born out of wedlock, as long as the child has not been legitimated.

 

Exceptions: child born on/after 1/13/41 and prior to 12/24/52 AND on/after 2/27/01.

** Child relieved of the remainder of the 5-year wait if the naturalized parent comes to meet definition of ‘both parents’ .

§101(c) As used in title III-
(1) The term “child” means an unmarried person under twenty-one years of age and includes a child legitimated under the law of the child’s residence or domicile, or under the law of the father’s residence or domicile, whether in the United States or elsewhere, and, except as otherwise provided in sections 320, and 321 of title III, a child adopted in the United States, if such legitimation or adoption takes place before the child reaches the age of 16 years (except to the extent that the child is described in subparagraph (E)(ii) or (F)(ii) of subsection (b)(1)), and the child is in the legal custody of the legitimating or adopting parent or parents at the time of such legitimation or adoption.

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