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Born Abroad: Citizenship Through Parents at Birth

Sometimes when people are born abroad, they are automatic U.S. citizens at birth. However, this depends on the citizenship status of their parents.

What qualifies as parents? This would include your genetic father, your genetic mother, or a non-genetic gestational mother, providing she is the legal parent at the time you were born.

For Children Born Outside the U.S.

If a child is born outside the U.S., he or she is U.S. citizen at birth if their parents are married to each other and both of the parents are U.S. citizens when the child is born, and at least one of the parents were living in the U.S. or one of its territories before the birth.

When a child is born outside the U.S., they are a citizen at birth if one of their parents are a U.S. citizen at the time of birth and the U.S. citizen parent lived in the U.S. or one of its territories for at least 5 years at some point before the child’s birth, two of which must have been before their 14th birthday.

If the U.S. citizen mother or father spent their time oversees while doing any of the following, that time can be counted towards the five year requirement:

  • Having served in the U.S. armed forces (honorably)
  • Worked for the U.S. government
  • Worked for certain international organizations

Additionally, if the U.S. citizen parent spent time abroad while they were a single (unmarried) son or daughter and member of the same household of someone who meets the above requirements, that time can be counted.

What if the parents aren’t married?

Generally, a child is a U.S. citizen at birth if their genetic or non-genetic legal mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of birth, and the mother was previously lived in the United States for at least one year.

Or, a child is a U.S. citizen at birth if at the time of birth, their mother was an alien, but the father was a U.S. citizen, and

  • A blood relationship between the child and father can be proven.
  • The father was a U.S. citizen at the time of the birth.
  • The father agrees in writing to financially support his child until the age of 18.
  • While the child is under 18, the father acknowledges paternity, or paternity is established through the courts, or the child is legitimated under the law.

The U.S. citizen parent must have lived in the U.S. or its territories for at least 5 years before the child’s birth, two of which must have occurred before their 14th birthday.

As explained above, time spent working in the U.S. armed forces, or employed by the U.S. government or certain international organizations can be applied towards the physical presence requirement.

To learn more about citizenship through parents, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC to schedule a consultation with a Plano immigration attorney.

Categories: Immigration