The primary ways to become a U.S. Citizen are:
Naturalization is the process by which an individual who was not born in the U.S. can become a U.S. citizen.
Born on U.S. Soil
Children born on U.S. soil automatically acquire American
citizenship for life. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees USA citizenship at birth to almost all individuals born in the U.S. or in U.S. jurisdictions, according to the principle of Jus Soli.
Note: Children of foreign heads of state, and children of foreign diplomats do not obtain USA citizenship.
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Born to U.S. Citizen Parents
Children born outside the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent or parents who meet U.S. residence requirements automatically acquire USA citizenship.
Birth Abroad to Two U.S. Citizen Parents in Wedlock
A child born abroad to two U.S. citizen parents acquires USA citizenship at birth under section 301(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). However, one of the parents must have resided in the U.S. prior to the child's birth. No specific period for such prior residence is required.
Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Foreign Parent in Wedlock
A child born abroad, to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent, acquires USA citizenship at birth provided the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth.
For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December
24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of 14 are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit USA citizenship to the child.
Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Father
A child born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen father may acquire USA citizenship provided:
Clear and convincing evidence of blood relationship has been established between the child and the father
The father was a U.S. national at the time of child's birth
The father (unless deceased) had agreed in writing to provide financial support for the child until he/she reaches the age of 18 years, and
While the child is under the age of 18 years:
He/she was legitimated under the law of his/her residence or domicile
The father acknowledges paternity of the child in writing under oath, or
The paternity of the child is established by adjudication in court
Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother
born abroad out-of-wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may acquire USA citizenship if the mother was a U.S. citizen at the time of the child's birth, and if the mother had previously been physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year.