Derivative citizenship means that someone can become a naturalized U.S. citizen because his or her parents become U.S. citizens.  In some cases, derivative citizenship is also granted to a foreign-born child who is adopted by parents who are citizens of the United States.

In Texas, the process for obtaining derivative citizenship and becoming naturalized is going to vary based on many factors including the age of the child, the parents’ immigration status and whether the child is living in the United States or not.  Knowing when and how to apply for derivative citizenship is complicated and you should have a qualified immigration lawyer helping. The attorneys at Monty & Ramirez have represented many children, parents and families in naturalization cases based on derivative citizenship in Greater Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.  We are here to help you, so call us to get started.

Greater Houston Derivative Citizenship Applications and Naturalization

In order for a person to apply to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, he or she needs to be at least 18 years of age. This means that when a family lives as lawful permanent residents in the United States, minor children under 18 cannot complete a formal application to become naturalized citizens in the same way that their parents would.

However, this doesn’t mean that a child under 18 cannot become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Instead, it means that a child may derive citizenship from their parents as they naturalize.

Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA), a child generally does not even need to submit a derivative citizenship application but instead will automatically become a U.S. citizen at the time when either parent naturalizes, provided certain criteria are met.

For a child under 18 to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship based on the naturalization of a parent:

  • The child needs to have a green card (lawful permanent resident status).
  • At least one parent needs to be a U.S. citizen either by naturalization or by birth.
  • The child needs to be living in the U.S. and the child needs to be under the legal and physical custody of a parent who is a United States Citizen.

If all three of these requirements are met, then the child may derive citizenship through their parents. Both biological and adopted children can automatically be given U.S. citizenship under these circumstances.   However, if a child is over the age of 18, then a separate application would need to be filed in order for the child to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Getting Legal Help

The immigration process can be confusing and there are a lot of legal requirements to be met in order to become a naturalized citizen. At Monty & Ramirez, we are here to help. Our immigration attorneys in Greater Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas have assisted many individuals and families with the naturalization process to make it possible to become U.S. citizens. Let us put our legal experience to work for you so you can complete all of the necessary steps to move forward and immigrate permanently to the U.S.  Call or contact us online today to get started. At Monty and Ramirez, we know what works.®