Understanding Automatic Citizenship into the United States

Mario A. Godoy
Understanding Automatic Citizenship into the United States

The United States citizenship laws under the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”) have changed many times over the years, especially in regards to how or when an individual automatically acquires United States citizenship. The current law has been in effect since February 27, 2001 and was passed through Public Law 106-395, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

That law states that a child automatically acquires United States citizenship so long as (1) at least one parent is a United States citizen by birth or naturalization, (2) the child resides in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residency, and (3) the child is or was younger than eighteen years of age as of February 27, 2001. This law not only applies to naturally born children, but adopted children as well, so long as they meet the definition of an adopted child as defined by the INA. This is of great importance for a plethora of persons in the United States currently with valid green cards who may, wrongly, be facing removal from the United States based on an erroneous assumption that they are removable from the United States.

However, just because you think you may be a United States citizen does not necessarily mean that you are one as the law has drastically been changed many times. Falsely claiming United States citizenship carries with it dire consequences and could guarantee your removal from the United States if you misrepresent yourself to be one when you are not. Simply registering to vote in the United States can be construed as a claim to United States citizenship as we previously highlighted in our blog post about Automatic Voter Registration.

If you or a family member believe that you may have automatically acquired United States citizenship by virtue of having a United States citizen parent, contact Godoy Law Office today for a consultation.

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