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Vickerstaff Law Office

Call For An Initial Consultation

Local: 502-442-2039 Toll-Free: 888-832-2944

Is citizenship automatic for children born to US citizens?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2022 | family immigration

When a U.S. citizen has a baby outside of the country, the situation may become complicated. Whether the baby has automatic citizenship depends on the circumstance of his or her birth.

The U.S. Department of State explains marriage plays a role in how a baby gains citizenship in the U.S. when he or she is born outside of the country. Genetic relationship also is an important factor.

In wedlock

A baby born to married parents who are citizens of the U.S. or within 300 days of the end of a marriage has the right to citizenship as long as one of the parents has a biological connection to the child. Citizenship is automatic in this situation.

If only one of the married parents is a U.S. citizen and the child is that parent’s biological child, then citizenship is automatic. However, the parent who is a citizen must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years before the child’s birth with at least two of those years being after the parent was 14 years old.

Out of wedlock

If the child’s parents are not spouses, but both parents are citizens, then the child automatically receives citizenship as long as one parent has a legal residence within the country prior to the birth. The father must have a genetic relationship with the child and be providing financial support for the child. Otherwise, the mother must be a citizen.

If the child’s only parent is a mother who is unwed, then there are different rules depending on the date of birth. For a child born before June 11, 2017, the law requires the mother must be a citizen and have been in the U.S. for one year before the birth. For births after June 12, 2017, the mother must have been present in the U.S. for at least five years with at least two of those years after the age of 14.

Any situation outside of these criteria would bring the citizenship of the child into question and may require further research or legal help.