Clients often ask about the path to citizenship. Most are eligible for the long and time consuming path to citizenship through visas, petitions, and Adjustment of Status. However, some are eligible for direct citizenship by blood via the N-600 application. Note that no actual blood is shed for this application.
A child may have citizenship bestowed upon them in two situations: (1) being physically born in the United States and its territories (Jus Soli), or (2) being born to U.S. citizen parents. The latter is often referred to as “Jus Sanguinis,” and may be proven through the N-600 Immigration Application. While the concept of Jus Sanguinis appears to be simple and straightforward, it is often complex and requires extensive legal analysis. The amount and type of evidence that is required for Jus Sanguinis depends on the various factors and the particular situation of the birth. The following are several factors, amongst others, that I look to consider whether someone is automatically a U.S. citizen.
One factor to consider is whether the child, born outside of the United States, was born in wedlock or not. Immigration laws require different standards of children born within the marriage and those born outside wedlock. Also, as immigration laws change over the years, a child’s birth date determines which period of law applies to that situation.
Another factor to consider is the citizenship of the parents at the time of the birth. It makes a difference whether both parents were U.S. citizens at the time of child’s birth. For example, in a situation where the child was born, in wedlock, after Nov. 11, 1986, to two U.S. citizen parents, the child must prove that the at least one U.S. citizen parent resided in the United States. In a situation where there is only one U.S. citizen parent, the child must further prove that the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for five years, two of which must be after the age of 14.
For children born outside the marriage and outside the U.S., the evidentiary requirement and standards are different for those born to U.S. citizen mothers or to U.S. citizen fathers. In the case of those born to U.S. citizen fathers, it is also important to note whether they were legitimated or acknowledged by the father in question.
As a side note, a child may inherit U.S. citizenship from the parent(s) if the child was under a certain age and the child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence.
A client could skip the long and expensive immigration process to legal permanent resident status if they qualify for Jus Sanguinis through the N-600 Application. However, due to the level of extensive legal analysis required and substantial evidentiary requirements, it highly recommended that one hires an experienced immigration attorney to guide them through this application.