I am an Immigration Lawyer with an office in Brooklyn, New York City. Some individuals are placed into removal proceedings and detained because they are convicted of a crime that allows a Green Card holder to be removed from this country under the law. There are occasions that a Green Card holder might be a US Citizen and not even know it because they do not have the paperwork to prove it. If it is determined that this individual is indeed a US Citizen then the removal proceedings must be dismissed and they must be released from detention.
A person is a US Citizen at birth if:
- This person was born in the United States or
- This person was born abroad to a U.S. citizen(s) who lived in (or came to) the United States for a period of time prior to the child’s birth.
Furthermore, a child who is born to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent or two alien parents who naturalize after the child’s birth can become a U.S. citizen by action of law on the date on which all of the following requirements have been met:
- The child was lawfully admitted for permanent residence; and
- Either parent was a United States citizen by birth or naturalization**; and
- The child was still under 18 years of age; and
- The child was not married; and
- The child was the parent’s legitimate child or was legitimated by the parent before the child’s 16th birthday (Stepchildren or children born out of wedlock who were not legitimated before their 16th birthday do not derive United States citizenship through their parents.); and
- The child was residing in the United States in the legal custody of the U.S. citizen parent (this includes joint custody); and
- The child was residing in the United States in the physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent.
Please note that a child who meets these requirements before his or her 18th birthday may obtain a passport or Certificate of Citizenship at any time, even after he or she turns 18.
If a child meets the above mentioned criteria then he/she may apply for a U.S. passport as evidence of citizenship. If further evidence of citizenship is needed, submit an "Application for Certificate of Citizenship" (Form N-600) to USCIS to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.
If you or a loved have questions about your citizenship or are in deportation proceedings, contact me immediately.
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**This rule only applies to children who were under age 18 on or after February 27, 2001. For children claiming automatic citizenship prior to this date, the individual in certain cases would have to establish that the parent or parents who were not U.S. citizens by birth had naturalized (or that the naturalizing parent was separated or legally divorced and had legal custody of the child).