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What Does Naturalized or Derived Citizen Mean?

What Does Naturalized or Derived Citizen Mean?

Naturalization and derived citizenship are two common paths to becoming a U.S. citizen, and each has its own set of requirements and procedures that aspiring citizens must understand.

A derived citizen gains citizenship through the naturalization of their parents or, in some cases, through adoption by U.S. citizen parents. This means that the individual becomes a citizen not through their own application process but as a direct consequence of their parent’s naturalization.

On the other hand, a naturalized citizen is an individual who was not born a U.S. citizen but has chosen to become one through a formal application and naturalization process. This process includes fulfilling residency requirements, demonstrating an understanding of English and U.S. history and government, and taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.

The key difference lies in how citizenship is acquired: naturalized citizenship is gained through individual effort and adherence to legal procedures, while a parent’s citizenship status automatically grants derived citizenship.

In this comprehensive guide, we explain the concepts of naturalization and derived citizenship, outline eligibility for both, and provide detailed steps for immigrants to follow on their journey to citizenship.

Derived Citizenship Eligibility

Derived citizenship benefits the children of U.S. citizens. This category applies automatically after a child of a U.S. citizen is born or after a parent is naturalized. To qualify for derived citizenship, the following conditions must be met:

What Children Are Eligible?

A child must be under 18 to qualify for derived citizenship on the date their parent(s) fulfilled the necessary requirements.

The child must also be the parent’s genetic, legitimated, or adopted child. The child could also be the non-genetic gestational child of a U.S. citizen mother who is recognized by the relevant jurisdiction as the child’s legal parent.

Parental Citizenship

To qualify for derived citizenship, at least one of the child’s parent(s) must be a U.S. citizen either by birth or through naturalization. If the citizenship is through naturalization, additional documentation might be required to prove the parent’s citizenship status when applying for the child’s derived citizenship.

Parental Custody

The child must be in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent or of a person who does not object to the application if the U.S. citizen parent is deceased.

Children Residing Inside The United States

If the child resides in the United States, they must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

Children Residing Outside The United States

The process for claiming derived citizenship varies slightly for children of U.S. citizens residing outside the United States. The child’s U.S. citizen parent or U.S. citizen grandparent must meet certain physical presence requirements in the United States or territory.

Then, at the time the application is approved and the time of naturalization, the child must be lawfully admitted, physically present, and maintaining a lawful status in the United States.

U.S. Citizen Parent’s Physical Presence

For the child to be eligible for derived citizenship, the U.S. citizen parent must have been in the U.S. or its territories for at least five years, two of which must have been after they were 14 years old.

If the citizen has not met the physical presence requirement, then the child can still be eligible if their grandparent meets it.

The process for claiming derived citizenship varies slightly for children of U.S. citizens residing outside the United States

Understanding these eligibility requirements is crucial for parents seeking to secure U.S. citizenship for their children through the derived citizenship process. If you are unsure if your child qualifies for derived citizenship, it is best to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can assess your case and provide guidance.

Steps to Obtain Derived Citizenship

Steps to Obtain Derived CitizenshipIf your child meets the eligibility requirements for derived citizenship, the following are the steps to take to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship:

  1. Gather necessary documents: You will need original or certified copies of your child’s birth certificate and evidence of their U.S. citizen parent’s citizenship.
  2. If you are residing inside the U.S., complete Form N-600: This is the Application for Certificate of Citizenship. Fill out all sections accurately and completely.
  3. If you are residing outside the U.S., complete Form N-600K: This is the Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322. Fill out all sections accurately and completely.
  4. Submit the application with supporting documents: Once all required documents are gathered, send in the application with the appropriate filing fee to the USCIS.
  5. Attend an interview (if necessary): Sometimes, an interview may be required as part of the application process. If so, you will receive a notice detailing when and where to attend.
  6. Receive a decision: After review of your application and interview (if applicable), you will receive a decision from the USCIS regarding your child’s Certificate of Citizenship.

Naturalized Citizenship Eligibility

To become a naturalized citizen of the United States, an applicant must meet several critical eligibility criteria. These criteria serve not only to ensure that the applicant has sufficiently integrated into American culture and society but also to confirm their commitment to fully participating in the civic life of the country. Below are the key eligibility requirements for naturalized citizenship:

Age Requirement

The applicant must be at least 18 years old at the time of filing the Application for Naturalization.

Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status

An individual must have been a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of application. There is a special exception for those married to U.S. citizens, where the requirement is reduced to 3 years of LPR status.

Continuous Residence

The applicant must have lived within the U.S. continuously for at least 5 years (or 3 years for those married to U.S. citizens) immediately preceding the application. Continuous residence means the applicant has not spent a prolonged period outside the U.S. Any absence of six months or more can disrupt this requirement, potentially resetting the continuous residence period count.

Physical Presence

Out of the 5 years (or 3 years) of continuous residence, the applicant must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months (or 18 months). This ensures that the applicant has indeed been living within the country and contributing to the community. The applicant must also have lived in the district they are applying for citizenship for at least 3 months.

Good Moral Character

Applicants must demonstrate good moral character for the 5 years (or 3 years) immediately preceding their application. This includes being free of serious criminal convictions, evidence of honesty and integrity in dealings with others, and adherence to the principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

English and Civics Test

An applicant must demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak basic English. In addition to language proficiency, the applicant must also pass a civics test, covering U.S. history and government to showcase their knowledge of and commitment to their adopted country.

Oath of Allegiance

Finally, to complete the process of becoming a naturalized citizen, an applicant must take the Oath of Allegiance in a formal ceremony. This oath signifies the applicant’s loyalty to the United States and its Constitution, renouncing any allegiance to foreign sovereignties, and committing to support and defend the laws and values of the U.S.

Meeting these requirements is a testament to the dedication and persistence of those who wish to call themselves American citizens. It’s a rigorous process but one that ultimately leads to full participation in the diverse and vibrant society that is the United States of America.

Related: The Complete Guide To Dual Citizenship

How to Apply for Naturalized Citizenship

How to Apply for Naturalized CitizenshipTo apply for naturalized citizenship, follow these steps that aim to facilitate your navigation through the application process:

  1. Ensure Eligibility: Before initiating the application process, thoroughly review the eligibility requirements for naturalization to ensure you meet all criteria.
  1. Prepare Form N-400: This is the Application for Naturalization. Complete all sections with accurate and true information. Making false statements on this form can result in denial of citizenship or legal penalties.
  1. Collect Necessary Documentation: Gather all necessary documents, which typically include a copy of your green card (front and back), travel records, tax returns for the required number of years, and any other documents that prove you meet the eligibility criteria.
  1. Submit Form N-400: After completing the form and collecting all required documents, submit your application package to the USCIS and the appropriate filing fee.
  1. Biometrics Appointment: Once your application is received, you may be scheduled for a biometrics appointment, where your fingerprints will be taken for background and security checks.
  1. Attend the Interview: The USCIS will schedule an interview with you to review your application and test your English and U.S. civics knowledge. This interview is a crucial step, and you should prepare thoroughly.
  1. Receive a Decision: The USCIS will decide on your application after your interview. If approved, you will be scheduled for a naturalization ceremony.
  1. Take the Oath of Allegiance: The final step is to attend a naturalization ceremony, where you will take the Oath of Allegiance and receive your Certificate of Naturalization, officially becoming a U.S. citizen.

The application process for naturalized citizenship is a significant step toward securing a future in the United States.

Schedule a Citizenship Consultation With Warren Law Firm

Why choose Warren Law Firm for family immigration?At Warren Law Firm, we understand the complexities and nuances involved in the naturalization process. Our dedication to our clients and deep understanding of immigration law sets us apart.

We are committed to making the path to U.S. citizenship as smooth as possible for you and your family. Our team takes pride in the personalized attention we provide to each client, ensuring that you’re not just another case number.

To get started, contact us today and schedule your citizenship consultation. Together, we’ll map out the best path forward and take steps toward securing your U.S. citizenship.

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