Are you an immigrant or U.S. citizen with an undocumented child? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about obtaining citizenship for them. Unfortunately, the laws pertaining to this are somewhat confusing and difficult to navigate. Depending on your situation, there are a number of requirements you’ll need to meet.
Working with an experienced immigration attorney is the safest route. However, it doesn’t hurt to get a basic understanding of the laws surrounding the process so you know which approach is best for you.
Obtaining Citizenship Through Derivation
If you’re an immigrant living in America and are eligible to apply for naturalization, you have an opportunity to get your child naturalized as well. This approach is referred to as “derivation.” The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 changed some of the laws pertaining to derivation. Now, if you have a child who turned 18 on or after February 27, 2001, and was born outside the U.S., you have to meet four requirements. These include:
- The child must be unmarried and under the age of 18 at the time one or both parents attain U.S. citizenship.
- At least one parent must be a U.S. citizen by naturalization or birth.
- The child must reside in the U.S., having been admitted as a permanent resident.
- The child must remain under physical and legal custody of the parent who’s a U.S. citizen.
If your child turned 18 before February 27, 2001, you’ll need to speak with an immigration attorney, as the laws become more complex.
Citizenship by Birth
If you’re now a citizen but your child was born outside the U.S., they may be eligible for citizenship without having to apply. The law stipulates that you or your spouse must reside in America for an allotted amount of time before the birth of your child. If you meet the requirements, citizenship will transmit to them. However, due to a number of changes to the law over the years, navigating the process can be complex. For example, if one parent is a citizen and the other a foreign national or alien, the parent who holds citizenship must show proof of residence for five years.
Applying for Citizenship
If your child is in the U.S. legally, but without permanent resident status? If this is the case, they didn’t attain citizenship at birth and aren’t eligible for derivation. The good news is, it’s still possible for your child to apply. To do so, you must fulfill the requirements stated in the Immigration and Naturalization Act. Under this law, your child can apply for citizenship if:
- The child is currently in the U.S. legally.
- One of the child’s parents is a citizen.
- The child is under the age of 18.
- The child is in physical and legal custody of the parent who holds citizenship.
- The parent who holds citizenship has been in America for five years.
If you adopted your child, the adoption must have taken place before they turned 16 years of age. Adoption makes the process more difficult, so you’ll need an attorney to help.
Contact Us Today for Assistance in Obtaining Citizenship
The documentation process for your child can be tedious and complicated. Making a mistake can cause delays and even prevent your child from gaining citizenship. To avoid this, contact the immigration attorneys at The Gambacorta Law Office at 847-443-9303 today.