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How Can a Child Obtain U.S. Citizenship Through a Parent or Grandparent?

 Posted on August 29, 2022 in Immigration

Dallas U.S. citizenship attorneyThe 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizenship to any child born inside the United States. This ensures that when parents are living inside the U.S., including those who are U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, or of any other status, their children will be able to realize the benefits of citizenship. However, there are many situations where U.S. citizens may be living outside the United States when their children are born. To ensure that their children can be recognized as U.S. citizens, parents or grandparents will need to take steps to apply for citizenship on behalf of their children. In these cases, it is important to understand the requirements that will need to be met and the information that must be submitted.

Requirements for U.S. Citizenship for Children

For a child to be recognized as a U.S. citizen, all of the following requirements must be met:

  • The child must be under the age of 18.

  • The child's biological or adoptive parent must be a U.S. citizen, either through birth in the United States or through the completion of the naturalization process.

  • The child's parent must meet the requirements for physical presence in the United States. Generally, the parent must have lived in the U.S. or a territory owned by the U.S. for at least five years, and two of these years must have been after the parent reached the age of 14. Notably, a person's aggregate time in the United States will be included in this total, including any time they spent in the U.S. before they became a citizen. If a parent is a member of the U.S. armed forces, any time they lived abroad while on official orders will be considered time spent in the United States. If a parent does not meet the physical presence requirements, a child may receive citizenship through a U.S. citizen grandparent who has met these requirements, including in situations where a grandparent has died but met the physical presence requirements prior to their death.

  • While residing outside the United States, the child must be in the custody of their U.S. citizen parent or, if the parent has died, another person who does not object to the child's application for citizenship.

  • The child must have been lawfully admitted to the United States, and they must be physically present in the country and have a legal immigration status at the time of naturalization. Exceptions may apply in some situations involving children of members of the U.S. armed forces or other U.S. government employees who are living abroad.

A parent will usually apply for citizenship on behalf of their child, but if the parent has died, the child's grandparent or legal guardian may submit an application. When applying for citizenship, documentation demonstrating that the child meets the requirements described above will need to be submitted. This may include:

  • The child's birth certificate.

  • The marriage certificate of the child's parents (if applicable), as well as any documentation that previous marriages have been legally terminated, such as divorce papers or death certificates.

  • Evidence that a parent is a U.S. citizen, such as a birth certificate, a valid and unexpired U.S. passport, or a naturalization certificate.

  • Documentation of legal custody of the child (if the parents are divorced or separated or if the child has been adopted).

  • Documentation of physical presence in the U.S. by a parent or grandparent, which may include educational records, mortgage or lease documents, utility bills, medical records, or insurance policies.

  • Documentation of the child's lawful admission to the United States, as well as evidence showing that they have maintained a legal immigration status.

  • If the child has been adopted, a copy of the adoption decree.

  • Documentation of any legal name changes for the child, parent, grandparent, or legal guardian.

Contact Our Dallas Citizenship Lawyers

If you are planning to apply for citizenship for your child, it is important to understand the requirements that must be met and the information that must be submitted. The Farmers Branch immigration and naturalization attorneys of John W. Lawit, LLC can help guide you through this process and ensure that all the necessary paperwork is filed correctly. To set up a consultation, call our office today at 214-609-2242.


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