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Citizenship through Parents

Were you born outside of the United States?. Did you acquire US citizenship through parents or grandparents?

If you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, you probably are a U.S. citizen. However, you need to get some paperwork to prove this.

What if you were born abroad and only one of your parents was a U.S. citizen at the time? That’s a little trickier. How do you determine if you “acquired” U.S. citizenship at birth through a parent, or if you “derived” citizenship as a minor through your parent(s)?

We attempt to simplify the complex laws regarding the acquisition and derivation of US citizenship through parents and grandparents so that they are understandable to non-lawyers.

Immigration advocates use  US Citizenship Charts (4charts) to assist them in such cases. These charts are hard to find on the USCIS website.


Derivative citizenship laws are one of the most complex areas of immigration law, and Congress has amended these laws multiple times.

Strategies for Proving U.S. Citizenship

There are multiple strategies for proving that you are a U.S. citizen even though you were not born in the U.S. You may want to apply for a U.S. passport, or alternately, you can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS using form N-600.US.


The Topics below reflect information related to Citizenship Through Parents or Grandparents contains the following topics:

  • US Citizenship Chart #1 – Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship of Children Born Abroad in Wedlock

  • US Citizenship Chart #2 – Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship of Children Born Abroad Out of Wedlock

  • US Citizenship Chart #3 – Derivative Citizenship of Children

  • US Citizenship Chart #4 – Section 322 Natural or Adoptive Child of a U.S. Citizen


  • Madar v. USCIS (3rd Circuit, 3-07-19)

  • Tullius v. Albright (11th Circuit, 2-06-01)

  • Drozd v. INS (2nd Circuit, 8-24-98)

  • Runnett v. Shultz (9th Circuit, 4-20-90)

  • Matter of Navarette – BIA (2-21-67)

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