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Does my child qualify for automatic U.S. citizenship?

According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, children can automatically qualify for American citizenship provided they meet a number of criteria.

When a child is born outside of this country, they may automatically qualify for U.S. citizenship if their parents are married and both parents must have become U.S. citizens prior to the child's birth. At least one of the child's parents must also be able to prove that he or she has lived either here in this country or a U.S. territory prior to the child being born as well.

If both parents are married and at least one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time that child was born, then any offspring born either on and sometime after Nov. 14, 1986 will qualify for automatic citizenship.

To do so, the parent that claims that he or she was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth must be able to show that he or she has spent at least five years physically living in this country or a territory of it. He or she must be able to prove that two or more of those years he or she spent living in the U.S. occurred after he or she turned 14.

There are a few exceptions to the aforementioned rule. If your U.S. citizen parent was living abroad during the five years while working for either an approved international organization or the federal government, then he or she may not have to prove residency. Serving in the U.S. military may merit an exemption being offered up as well.

If parents are unmarried at the time of a baby's birth, then a child may be able to claim automatic citizenship if his or her mother became a U.S. citizen sometime after Dec. 23, 1952. She must have also spent at least one continuous year in the county or one of its possessions after that.

An unmarried father who has a baby with a foreign alien may qualify for the same if the child was born either on or sometime after Nov. 14, 1986. To do so, he must provide proof of paternity, express willingness to take on financial responsibility for the child and meet certain residency requirements.

In learning more about the circumstances surrounding your baby's birth, a Norcross attorney can advise you as to whether he or she may qualify to automatically become a U.S. citizen.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Citizenship through parents," accessed March 16, 2018

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