Derivative Citizenship for ChildrenDerivative Citizenship for Children: Does Your Child Qualify?Derivative Citizenship for Children

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Secure Your Child’s Future With Derivative Citizenship


Derivative citizenship refers to granting American citizenship to children born outside the US but having a U.S. citizen parent.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reviews petitions based on eligibility requirements like the child’s birth year, parental status, age, and residency. Therefore, it is crucial to comprehend the immigration laws and their applicability to your unique case.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, we understand the fundamentals of derivative citizenship. We have helped clients understand their citizenship eligibility and helped them apply while safeguarding their rights and privileges.

Read below to learn how derivative citizenship for children works and how you can secure your child’s future.

Eligibility Criteria for Derivative Citizenship


The Role of Parental Citizenship

Ultimately, a child’s citizenship hinges on their parents’ citizenship status when they were born.

  • If both parents are US citizen parents, the biological child automatically becomes a US citizen regardless of their birthplace.

  • When one parent is a US citizen, and the other is not, the child, whether biological or adopted, might qualify for derivative citizenship if the US citizen parent meets lawful permanent residence status or physically present citizenship requirements outlined by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • If neither parent is a US citizen, the child is only eligible for derivative citizenship if their parents acquire US citizenship.

Age and Residency Requirements

Eligibility to derive US citizenship is tied to the child’s age and the Child Citizenship Act requirements. The citizenship of a child born on or after February 27, 2001, is determined by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000. The child can automatically derive citizenship if specific conditions are met before age 18. Derivative citizenship is possible if:

  • At least one parent is a US citizen by birth or by naturalization.

  • The child is under the legal and physical custody of the US citizen parent.

  • The child becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR) or is admitted to the US as an LPR.

Different laws apply for children born between December 24, 1952, and February 26, 2001. Generally, a child needs at least one US citizen parent with a specified physical presence in the United States before birth. The exact duration and conditions depend on the child’s birth date and the parent’s marital status. Children born before December 24, 1952, face more complex regulations, which vary based on the birth country, parents’ naturalization date, and other factors.

Legal and Biological Relationships

Derivative citizenship usually requires both legal and biological links with the US citizen parent. However, adopted children may also qualify for derivative citizenship.


The Application Process for Derivative Citizenship


The application process for derivative citizenship differs based on whether the child acquires or derives citizenship from their parents. Children acquiring citizenship at birth need not apply but may require proof of citizenship like a US passport or a Certificate of Citizenship.

Conversely, children deriving citizenship after birth must apply for a Certificate of Citizenship with USCIS. You can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship by filing Form N-600.

Form N-600 and Its Significance

Form N-600 is the official document that children deriving citizenship after birth submit to USCIS to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. This certificate serves as proof of US citizenship and aids in obtaining a US passport, a Social Security number, and other benefits.

Form N-600 requires personal information from the child and parent(s), like names, addresses, dates, places of birth, immigration history, and citizenship status. It also investigates their eligibility for derivative citizenship by examining parental citizenship, age and residency, and legal or biological relationships.

Upon filing Form N-600, a USCIS officer might schedule an interview to verify eligibility, review documents, and request additional evidence. If approved, the child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship via mail.

Necessary Documentation

To apply for derivative citizenship, the child and their parent(s) must provide various documents as evidence of eligibility along with their application, such as:

  • Child’s birth certificate

  • Parent(s)’ proof of US citizenship (e.g., US birth certificate or naturalization certificate)

  • Proof of the child’s permanent resident status (e.g., an I-551 stamp endorsed in the child’s foreign passport or green card)

  • Final adoption decree or proof of biological relationship, if applicable

  • Proof of parent(s)’ and child’s physical presence or residence in the United States (e.g., school records, tax returns, or utility bills)

  • Proof of the child and parent(s) identity (e.g., driver’s license, state ID, or passport)

  • Two passport-style photos of the child

If any documents are in a foreign language, they must be accompanied by certified translations. Additionally, USCIS might request additional evidence to confirm the information provided or resolve discrepancies.

An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the application process and the appropriate documentation for your situation.

Rights and Benefits of Derivative Citizenship

Derivative citizenship confers similar rights and benefits as naturalized or born citizenship, such as:

Legal Rights for Derivative Citizens

  • Voting rights in federal, state, and local elections

  • Eligibility to run for public office, excluding the presidency and vice presidency

  • Jury service eligibility

  • Ability to apply for federal jobs and benefits

  • Travel rights with a US passport

  • Sponsorship of relatives for immigration

  • Protection against deportation and denaturalization

Long-Term Benefits for Children

  • Access to quality education and financial aid

  • Enhanced employment and career prospects

  • Freedom to live and work anywhere in the United States

  • Visa-free travel to numerous countries

  • Security and stability of US citizenship

Common Challenges and Solutions in Derivative Citizenship


Derivative citizenship poses complexities and challenges due to various factors influencing a child’s eligibility and application. Some common hurdles parents and children face include:

  • Deciphering applicable laws and criteria based on the child’s birth date

  • Gathering and preparing necessary documents and evidence

  • Accurately and timely completing Form N-600

  • Responding to USCIS requests for additional information or evidence

  • Attending USCIS interviews and answering inquiries

  • Managing application delays, denials, or appeals

These challenges might overwhelm children and parents, especially if they are unfamiliar with immigration laws and processes. Seeking legal assistance from qualified naturalization lawyers becomes crucial to navigating derivative citizenship successfully.


How Naturalization Lawyers Can Help


Naturalization lawyers know about derivative citizenship laws, eligibility criteria, application procedures, and USCIS expectations. They provide valuable guidance and support to parents and children at every stage of the application process.

They can:

  • Assess your child’s eligibility for derivative citizenship and advise you on the most appropriate course of action

  • Help you gather and prepare essential documents, including certified translations if required

  • Review your Form N-600 for accuracy and completeness

  • Represent you during USCIS interviews and respond to any requests or inquiries on your behalf

  • Keep track of your application’s progress and take timely measures in case of delays or denials

  • Advise you on the next steps, including appealing a denial or applying for a US passport with the obtained Certificate of Citizenship.

Get Professional Assistance From Andrew T. Thomas Law Firm

Derivative citizenship offers a transformative opportunity for children born outside the US with at least one US citizen parent. However, the intricate nature of this process demands a thorough understanding of citizenship laws and meticulous application preparation. For parents seeking citizenship for their child or children claiming their citizenship rights, seeking guidance from experienced attorneys can be a crucial step in the process.

At Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, our team collaborates closely with clients, tailoring legal strategies and services to their situations. We offer honest, realistic guidance and representation, ensuring regular communication to update progress, address concerns promptly, and answer queries professionally.

If you aspire to secure derivative citizenship for yourself or your child, Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, stands ready to assist you. Trust us as your reliable and experienced partner in the derivative citizenship process. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your immigration case.