Birthright citizenship refers to the idea that a person’s U.S. citizenship is acquired automatically through the circumstances of their birth. This is different from other means of obtaining citizenship later on in life, such as through naturalization. Birthright citizenship is granted according to both 14th Amendment constitutional principles as well as federal statutes.
Birthright citizenship may be classified according to two common law principles: jus solis (by geographic location) or jus sanguinis (by blood relations). U.S. citizenship by birth may be granted under both principles.
The Citizenship Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside…”
This means that all persons who are born in the U.S. are considered to be U.S. citizens. Citizenship is automatically granted for persons born in the U.S., regardless of the citizenship status of the parents. This type of birthright citizenship also applies to persons born in the U.S. territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In some instances, birthright citizenship can also be extended to persons who are born outside of the U.S. Federal laws contain a number of statutes based on jus sanguinis principles. These allow a person to obtain birthright citizenship according to parentage when they are born on foreign soil.
If the parents are married and the child is born overseas, citizenship is granted as follows:
On the other hand, U.S. laws for overseas births differ when the parents are unmarried. A child born overseas to unmarried parents is granted U.S. citizenship as follows:
In the case of an unmarried U.S. citizen father, it is especially important for the father to establish paternity before the child reaches the age of 18. Once the child is 18, the father is no longer entitled to prove paternity, and thus the child may never obtain their birthright citizenship. This could even lead to possible removal or deportation in the future.
If you or your child need advice on birthright citizenship, an experienced lawyer can be of great help. Your immigration attorney will be able to explain the various citizenship laws to you, and can help determine you or your child’s eligibility for birthright citizenship. Also, if you have other related concerns such as paternity or deportation, your attorney can provide you with further assistance.
Last Modified: 01-16-2013 03:20 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.