21st February 2024


A child (under 18) can instantly become a U.S. citizen at birth in one of two ways. It is general knowledge that a kid born on American territory automatically becomes a citizen of the country. However, a child who is not born in the United States can obtain U.S. citizenship at birth if both parents are citizens. This is referred to as the acquisition of citizenship for children. An expert at Vanderwall Immigration can help you learn more, so schedule an appointment today.


Acquired citizenship

 If at least one parent is regarded as a U.S. citizen and the U.S. citizen parent fulfills specific residency or physical presence criteria in the United States before the child’s birth, then a  child born outside the United States normally gains U.S. citizenship at birth. “United States” refers to the 50 states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The regulations governing the acquisition of citizenship at birth have periodically changed over time. As a result, determining when a kid was born and which law for acquiring citizenship was in place at the time is critical. This is a highly technical aspect of immigration law, and you would need expert professional help on your side.


Current requirements for the acquisition of U.S. citizenship

 Under current law, someone born outside the USA may obtain citizenship at birth if even one of the parents is regarded as a U.S. citizen and the U.S. citizen parent meets specific physical presence or residence conditions in the United States before the person’s birth. The legislation applies to children born on or after November 14, 1986. The following is a summary of the requirements:


A child born in wedlock  

  • Child of two American citizens

At least one of the parents must have lived in the United States at some point before the child’s birth.

  • Child of one American citizen and one American national

The parent who is regarded as a citizen of the U.S. must have been physically present in the country for at least a year before the birth of the child.

  • A child with one foreign national and one American citizen parent

The U.S. citizen parent must have resided in the country for at least five years, including at least two years after the child turns 14. Time spent overseas can also count as physical presence in the US if spent as a member of the US honorable status military forces, while employed by the US government or other eligible organizations, or as an unmarried and dependent daughter or son of such people.