A person may become a U.S. citizen automatically by birth, or may choose to become a U.S. citizen later in life by naturalization.
Many persons born outside the United States are also US citizens if either or both of their parents are U.S. Citizens.
If both parents are U.S. citizens, the child will be a U.S. citizen if either parent resided in the U.S. for any length of time.
If only one parent is a U.S. citizen:
- Child was born before November 14, 1986: The exact rules are very complicated and is very factual specific. Please contact us for a consultation for more details.
- Child was born after November 14, 1986: the child will be a citizen if the U.S. citizen parent resided in the U.S. for five years prior to the child’s birth, including at least two years after the parent reached the age of 14.
A person may apply for U.S. citizenship by naturalization after he or she has been a Permanent Resident for five years. If a person has been married to a U.S. citizen during the qualifying period, the waiting period is reduced to three years.
In addition, the person must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the qualifying period (for instance, a total of 2.5 years out of the required five) and no single absence exceeds 6 months.