Get your questions about getting a green card, becoming a U.S. citizen, family immigration, Temporary Protected Status and other immigration law matters ready for the 15th annual CUNY/Daily News Citizenship NOW! Call-in, June 19-23, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Phone numbers will be coming next week.
You may be a U.S. citizen and not even know it. If you got your green card before age 18 and one of your parents was or became a U.S. citizen, you may have “derived” U.S. citizenship. Derivative citizens have all the rights and benefits of a naturalized citizen.
Here’s an overview of the derivative citizenship rules. If you’re not sure if you are already a citizen, give us a call.
Permanent resident children not yet 18 on Feb. 27, 2001, or born after that date, derive U.S. citizenship if they meet the following conditions:
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* At least one parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization.
* The child is unmarried.
* The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent.
Under less generous rules, a permanent resident child who was already age 18 on Feb. 27, 2001, derived U.S. citizenship upon the naturalization of a parent if:
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* The other parent was or became a U.S. citizen before the child turned 18.
* The child is “illegitimate” and the parent naturalized was the mother.
* The child’s other parent was deceased.
* The parents were divorced or separated and the parent being naturalized had legal custody of the child following the divorce or separation.
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Note that a child born “illegitimate” and not legitimated before age 18 cannot derive U.S. citizenship from a U.S. citizen father. Adopted children can derive, stepchildren cannot.
Under either set of rules, the order of events makes no difference. If a child is a permanent resident and under 18, and then the parent or parents naturalize, the child gets automatic citizenship. If the parent or parents naturalize and then the child gets permanent residence before turning 18, the child becomes a U.S. citizen the moment he or she becomes a permanent resident.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship Now project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 7th Fl., 4 New York Plaza, New York, NY, 10004 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.
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