U.S. Citizenship Through Parents Who Are Citizens

Not everyone who is a U.S. citizen knows that they are. Some people actually become U.S. citizens automatically, by operation of law, usually because they are either:

  •          born outside the U.S. to U.S. citizen parents (called derivation of citizenship), or
  •          were living in the U.S. with lawful permanent residence (a green card) when their parents became U.S. citizens (called acquisition of citizenship).

However, the laws in this area cannot be summarized in a few sentences, because they depend on what laws were in effect in the year you were born or certain other qualifying circumstances took place.

It’s important to understand that, if you have indeed acquired or derived U.S. citizenship, you no longer need to “apply” for citizenship – you already have it. You will, however, probably want to submit applications asking the U.S. government to recognize your citizenship and give you proof of your status, such as a certificate of citizenship or a U.S. passport.

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