Transmitting Citizenship

The law on transmission of U.S. citizenship varies according to whether one or both biological parents are U.S. citizen, and whether the child was born in or out of wedlock.

Child born abroad to two U.S. Citizens

A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to parents, both of whom are citizens of the United States, is entitled to citizenship provided one of the parents had, prior to the birth of the child, been resident in the United States or one of its outlying possessions. (No specific period of time is required.)

Child born abroad to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non U.S. Citizen

A child born on or after November 14, 1986. A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. citizen parent had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen. This period of physical presence must have taken place prior to the birth of the child.

A child born between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986. A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship providing the U.S. citizen parent had, prior to the birth of the child, been physically present in the United States for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.

A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother is entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year at some time prior to the birth of her child.

Child born abroad and out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen father

A child born outside of the United States to an U.S. citizen father where there is no marriage to the non-U.S. citizen mother is entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. citizen father had been physically present in the United States for the period of time as specified in previous paragraphs for children born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen and one non-U.S. citizen parent.

The following conditions must also be fulfilled:

  • The father must sign a sworn statement agreeing to provide financial support for the child until s/he reaches the age of 18 years; and…

…the following conditions are met:

  • the father provides a written statement acknowledging paternity;
  • or the child is legitimated under local law;
  • or paternity is established by a competent court before the child attains the age of 18 years;