Today, I would like to talk about U.S. citizenship in my capacity as a Miami immigration lawyer. We must first start out with the simplest question – who is a United States Citizen?

If the following apply to you, you are clearly a United States citizen:

  • You were born to U.S. citizen parents
  • You were born in the United States
  • You became a naturalized U.S. citizen and have been living in the United States

How can I obtain United States Citizenship?

U.S. citizenship can be obtained in one of four ways:

  • birth in the United States or its territories
  • birth to U.S. citizen parents (called “acquisition” of citizenship)
  • naturalization (obtaining citizenship after an application and exam), or
  • naturalization of one’s parents (called “derivation” of citizenship).

Citizenship through acquisition

What if you have one (or both) parents who are United States citizens, but you were born outside of the US? In this case, you may qualify for what is known as “citizenship through acquisition.” If  a child is born outside the United States, and at least one parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth, the child automatically “acquires” citizenship. This is sometimes referred to as “birthright” citizenship.

Note: If you think that you are eligible for acquired citizenship based upon one or both of your parents status as United States citizens, it may be in your best interest to speak with a Miami immigration lawyer. Why? Because the laws that govern acquisition of citizenship have changed several times. Your Miami immigration lawyer will have to take a look at what kind of law was in effect at the time of your birth, in order to make sure that you qualify for acquired citizenship.

Also, take note that you will need to prove your parent or parents’ status as United States citizens at the time of your birth and will need to provide proof of U.S. citizenship. Again, consult with your Miami immigration attorney for more details.

What is Derivative Citizenship?

If you have a parent who naturalizes, you can be said to “derive” U.S. citizenship automatically. In order to qualify for automatic derivation, please note that you must already have your green card, be under age 18, and be living with the parent at the time.

I have an adopted child and have just naturalized. Can my adopted child obtain derivative citizenship?

The short answer is – yes. However, the United States government mandates that the adoption must already be final, in order for the adopted child of a naturalized citizen to receive derivative citizenship. If you have any questions – do not guess. It is best to consult with a Miami immigration lawyer if you are not sure.

If you would like more information on acquired citizenship versus derivative citizenship, please contact Miami immigration attorney Michael G. Murray, Esq. at (305) 895-2500 or visit our website at .

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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