GVD LAW guides immigrants towards U.S. citizenship
Almost all people born in the U.S. (including its waters and airspace) automatically acquire U.S. citizenship at birth. For everyone else, there are extra steps.
Naturalization is the process followed by most lawful permanent residents ("LPR" or "green card holder").
Certification or registration processes are available for individuals who were born outside the U.S. but who may already be U.S. citizens ("USC") based on the citizenship of one or both of their parents.
Naturalization This is the final step in the immigration journey for most LPRs. Some LPRs, like those who immigrated based on marriage, can naturalize within three years of becoming an LPR. For most, however, it requires five years of LPR status. During the three or five year period prior to naturalization, there are a number of conditions that LPRs must meet, including time spent within the U.S., continuity of residence, and a showing of "good moral character", which is largely based on an applicant's criminal history as well as certain financial obligations, such as paying taxes or child support. "Inadmissibility" issues can also be an important factor in some cases, as USCIS will look back at an LPRs immigration history to ensure that they were not inadmissible at the time they became an LPR. Most applicants must also show English language skills, pass a short test on American history and government, and be willing to swear an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. There are, however, exceptions, modifications and accommodations available to older applicants and those with disabilities, as well as for those with religious or conscientious objections to sections of the Oath. For more information, please Contact Us for an initial consultation.
Certification or Registration There are a number of ways a USC parent can pass their citizenship onto a child born outside the U.S. For example:
When a parent naturalizes, their LPR children might derive U.S. citizenship. The outcome depends on the law that was in place at the time of the parent's naturalization.
When a person is born or adopted to a USC parent, they might have acquired US citizenship. This depends on the citizenship law that was in place when a person was born or adopted and how that law treats other factors such as: whether one or both parents' had U.S. citizenship at that time, what kind of connection their parent(s) had to the U.S., and - if claiming citizenship through genetic parents - their parents' marital status at the time of their birth.
Unfortunately, unlike the immigration process, step-children cannot become citizens through a step-parent.
Individuals who have derived or acquired U.S. citizenship through their parents need to prove this transmision to the federal government in order to have their citizenship officially recognized and certified or registered. The appropriate process depends on the person's age and how citizenship was passed to them. For more information, please Contact Us for an initial consultation.
Dual Citizenship The U.S. allows its citizens to be citizens of other countries. It does not require citizenship applicants to give up their foreign citizenship(s) in order to naturalize or to obtain a certificate of citizenship. But, not all countries view dual citizenship in the same way. Some do not permit dual citizenship, which means a newly naturalized U.S. citizen could lose their foreign citizenship. Other countries allow dual citizenship, but only under certain conditions. Before naturalizing, check with your own country's Embassy in the U.S. or with a lawyer licensed to practice law in that country, to learn how becoming a U.S. citizen could affect your current citizenship(s).