Automatic Citizenship, Naturalization, Parents, Relatives
U.S. Citizenship has been the ultimate goal for most immigrants living in the U.S. For those not born in the U.S., the traditional way of getting one's citizenship is by applying for naturalization after waiting five years of being a permanent resident or a green card holder (three if one is married to a U.S. citizen). What most people don't know is that there are other ways of acquiring U.S. citizenship. Some people may not even know that they are already U.S. citizens.
Automatic Citizenship by Naturalization of Parent
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (effective on Feb. 27, 2001) made the child who is below 18 years old an automatic citizen if one of his parents naturalizes. The child's citizenship is granted by operation of law. This means the child does not even have to do anything but he will be considered a U.S. citizen.
Prior to this law, there were different criteria on how to derive automatic citizenship through the naturalization of parents. Depending on the date the parents naturalized, an automatic grant of citizenship may require that both parents have naturalized, or that the child is legitimate, or that the child has been a permanent resident for at least five years. The rules can be complicated.
Birth Outside the U.S. to U.S. Citizen Parent/s
Even if the child was not born in the U.S., he may still be an automatic U.S. citizen. Without being technical, if the child has a parent who is a U.S. citizen that resided in the U.S. for a specific period of time, the child may be a U.S. citizen by birth. Even if the child is illegitimate (parents were not married) the basic rule will still apply.
Sometimes, a person's U.S. citizenship can be traced through a grandparent's citizenship. If you have a U.S. citizen among your ancestors, there is a good chance that U.S. citizenship may have been passed down to you. You may have acquired U.S. citizenship automatically without having to apply for it.
There are many benefits to an automatic citizenship. One of which is a defense against deportation.