As an immigrant in the United States, US citizenship is the presumed end goal of your immigration journey. There are tremendous benefits to becoming a citizen of the United States. While being born on American soil automatically grants you US citizenship, there are other ways too to obtain citizenship for foreign nationals.
What Are the Different Ways to Obtain US Citizenship?
There are 4 main ways to obtain US citizenship:
- Citizenship by Birth in the US
- Citizenship through Acquisition
- Citizenship through Derivation
- Citizenship through Naturalization
What Is Citizenship through Birth?
According to US law, any individual born within the US borders, including its territories, is automatically granted US citizenship. Only children of citizens who are foreign diplomats or members of a sovereign Native American tribe are exempt from this law. The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution states that all persons born or naturalized in the US, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the US. This pathway is not for foreign nationals who wish to obtain US citizenship.
What Is Citizenship through Acquisition?
An individual can automatically acquire US citizenship even if they were born overseas if at least one of their parents was a US citizen at the time of birth and if certain other conditions are met. The children of this individual may also acquire US citizenship at birth if:
- Both parents were US citizens at the time of birth, were married at the time of birth and at least 1 of them lived in the US or its territories before the birth of the child
- One parent was a US citizen at the time of birth, the child was born after November 14, 1986, and the parents were married at the time of birth. The US citizen parent must have also been physically present in the US or its territories for at least 5 years at some point in their life before the child was born and at least 2 years must be after they turned 14