Acquisition of American Citizenship

The law on acquisition of American Citizenship varies if one or both biological parents are also Americans, and if the child is born in or out of wedlock. Here’s how it works:

 

A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to parents, both of whom are citizens of the United States, is entitled to citizenship provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required.)

… provided that one parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and the birthdate is on or after November 14, 1986. A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child. (Please see “What Do We Mean by Physical Presence?” for more information)

Child born on or before June 11, 2017

A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a mother who is a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth where there is no marriage to the non-American father is entitled to U.S. Citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year at some time prior to the birth of her child.

Child born on or after June 12, 2017

A child born outside of the United States to a mother who is a U.S. Citizen at the time of the child’s birth where there is no marriage to the non-American father is entitled to U.S. Citizenship providing the American citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for five years, two of which are after the age of 14, prior to the child’s birth. (Please see “What Do We Mean by Physical Presence?” for more information)

A child born outside of the United States to a father who is a U.S. Citizen at the time of the child’s birth where there is no marriage to the non-American mother is entitled to U.S. Citizenship providing the American citizen father had been physically present in the United States for five years, two of which are after the age of 14, prior to the child’s birth. (Please see “What Do We Mean by Physical Presence?” for more information)

The following conditions must also be fulfilled:

  • The father must sign a sworn statement agreeing to provide financial support for the child until s/he reaches the age of 18 years; and…
  • …the following conditions are met:

  • the father provides a written statement acknowledging paternity;
  • or the child is legitimated under local law;
  • or paternity is established by a competent court before the child attains the age of 18 years;

All of these statements are made by the father using this Affidavit of Paternity form (PDF 112 KB). Please download and complete it before coming to the Consulate, but do not sign it. You’ll sign it in front of a consular officer at the Consulate. In some unusual cases we may need to request DNA testing to verify parentage.

Physical Presence is the actual time when the parent was physically present in the United States.

This means that any travel outside the United States, including vacation, should be excluded. Please be prepared to submit evidence such as military records, school transcripts, or tax records (including W-2s). Other possible evidence could include old passports or pay stubs.

Any documented periods of time spent overseas with the United States Military/Government etc. may be computed as physical presence in the United States for transmission of citizenship purposes. Time spent as a dependent of a United States Military/Government employee may also be computed as physical presence. Military records may be requested.

 

Last modified: June 22, 2018