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Information Package with Immigration and citizenship frequently asked questions and answers about people who may receive the U.S. Citizenship by birth automatically when born in the U.S. territory or when born abroad. Information to help you understand clearly if you or your children were born American citizens and explanation of the requirements and different scenarios that may apply to you or your relatives.
The United States citizenship can be acquired in two main paths.
Many children are born United States citizens automatically at birth. The citizenship can be acquired by two main principles, the principle of jus soli, what means "right of the soil" in Latin, also referred as the right of birth place, or by the principle of Jus sanguinis, what means in Latin the "right of blood." Children acquire their U.S. citizenship just because they are born in the territory of the United States, or because they are born abroad from at least one U.S. citizen parent that complies with certain requirements of physical presence in the United States.
You may become a U.S. citizen automatically at birth if you were:
1. Born in the United States
The most common way to be become a U.S. citizen automatically at birth is when a child is born in the territory of the United States. Children born in the United States are not required to have American parents, or parents with a green card or resident status in order to become U.S. citizens at birth. Just the fact of being born in the United States gives a newborn the U.S. citizenship automatically. Please note that there are some exceptions for the children of people with diplomatic status in the U.S. A child born in the United States from a parent that is a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, is not subject to the jurisdiction of United States law because of his diplomatic status. Therefore the child can not be considered a U.S. citizen at birth. However the child may be considered a permanent resident at birth and be able to receive a green card through creation of record.
2. Born abroad from American Parent(s)
Another way to become a U.S. citizen by birth is when a child is born abroad, outside of the U.S., but at least one of the parents is an American citizen that complies with certain physical presence requirements. There are many requirements that apply and in some cases even if the children born abroad don't acquire the U.S. citizenship at birth they still are eligible for a faster naturalization process.
For those that are not Americans by birth, but wish to become citizens of the United States then the path to become a citizen is to become naturalized. U.S. Naturalization is the process by which a citizen of a foreign country obtains the U.S. citizenship and becomes a naturalized citizen of the United States. In general, the first step to become a naturalized U.S. Citizen is to apply for a green card, also known as a permanent resident card or immigrant visa. After holding a Green Card for certain time and comply with certain requirements, a U.S. legal permanent resident may be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Acquiring the U.S. citizenship through naturalization can be complex and not everybody is eligible, there are several steps and requirements.
Order to find out the answer to several of your citizenship by birth questions, including how to access citizenship forms, application filing fees and procedures, and general application information about birth abroad for children of United States citizens, or birth in the U.S. territory.