Can I Receive US Citizenship Through My Parents?

As an immigration attorney, I have been asked, “Is is possible to gain citizenship through my parents?” Birthright citizenship is possible in the United States one of two ways: at the time of birth or before you turn 18 years old. Your parents must be your genetic mother and father or a person who is your legal parent at the time of your birth to qualify for this type of citizenship. Whether you were born in the United States or outside of the United States, there are specific guidelines and criterion used to determine if you can receive US citizenship through your parents.

Being Born in the United States

If you are born in the United States or a U.S. territory, you automatically receive citizenship, even if your parents are not citizens. However, if your parents are government officials of a foreign country or have diplomatic status, you do not receive birthright citizenship per Title 8 of the United States Code. If you are born in the U.S., your citizenship lasts for the rest of your life unless you voluntarily give it up.

Being Born to U.S. Citizens

Another way to obtain birthright citizenship is through birth to United States citizens. Only one parent must be a citizen at the time of your birth, and then you gain citizenship through acquisition. You could be born in the U.S. or another country at the time, and you will still receive U.S. citizenship. Also, a foreign-born child adopted by United States citizens will receive acquired citizenship the same way a child born to those parents would.

The Issues with Citizenship Through Acquisition

While it sounds straightforward, this type of citizenship is extremely complex. Furthermore, multiple laws affect acquisition, and the laws change based on the year you or your children are born. Therefore, you must speak with an immigration attorney to determine what laws apply based on your date of birth.

Citizenship Through Naturalization of Parents

If you were not born in the United States, but your parents have become naturalized United States citizens, you could still qualify for citizenship yourself. In this case, you must have a green card and still be under 18 years of age. Furthermore, you must live with your naturalized parent in the United States.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help with Birthright Citizenship

Determining what type of birthright citizenship you qualify for is complicated. Contact an attorney at Udall Shumway, PLC to explore your options and see how you might qualify for citizenship.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Citizenship Through My Parents, or other Immigration Law matters, please feel free to contact Phil D. Ortega at 480.461.5330, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.