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The 4 main ways to become a citizen

There are four main, traditional ways for an individual to become a citizen of the United States. Naturally, the first is simply through birth. Those who are born in a territory controlled by the U.S. or within the borders of the U.S. itself are citizens.

So, what about about those who are not born within the country? Well, if both parents are citizens of the United States at the time of the child's birth, that child may then qualify as a legal citizen, even if he or she is technically born somewhere else -- while the parents are on vacation, for example.

The third main way is by going though the process known as naturalization. This means you don't have a tie to the U.S. by blood, but you can still apply for citizenship and take the test. If you pass and complete the entire process without issue, you can then become a citizen even if no one else in your family is one already and you were born somewhere else.

Finally, parents who go through this naturalization process may pass this on to their children, in some cases. Technically speaking, this is known as "derivation" of citizenship. It's worth nothing that both parents do not have to be naturalized, in all cases, for children to derive this citizenship from the parent who is.

This does simplify the topic in order to provide a quick glimpse at all four ways, and naturalization can be complicated. If you're interested in becoming a citizen or wondering how it impacts your kids, be sure you are very familiar with how it works.

Source: FindLaw, "Citizenship Through Naturalization," accessed June 06, 2017

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