In addition to the naturalization process, the United States recognizes the U.S. citizenship of individuals according to two fundamental principles: jus soli, or right of birthplace, and jus sanguinis, or right of blood.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizenship at birth to almost all individuals born in the United States or in U.S. jurisdictions, according to the principle of jus soli. Certain individuals born in the United States, such as children of foreign heads of state or children of foreign diplomats, do not obtain U.S. citizenship under jus soli.
Certain individuals born outside of the United States are born citizens because of their parents, according to the principle of jus sanguinis, which holds that the country of citizenship of a child is the same as that of his/her parents. The U.S. Congress is responsible for enacting laws that determine how citizenship is conveyed by a U.S. citizen parent or parents according to the principle of jus sanguinis. These laws are contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Naturalization of children who regularly reside outside the United States (Form N-600K)
Certain children who regularly reside outside the U.S. may be eligible for citizenship under Section 322 of the INA. Form N-600K may be filed by:
- A US citizen parent seeking citizenship on behalf of a minor adopted or biological child under section 322 of the INA (providing for citizenship through an application process for biological and adopted children who regularly reside outside of the U.S. and meet certain conditions while under age 18), or
- If a U.S. citizen parent of a child who otherwise meets the eligibility requirements of INA 322 has died, a U.S. citizen grandparent or a U.S. legal guardian can file the application at any time within five years of the U.S. citizen parent’s death.
- If the child’s citizen parent has not lived in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 of which were after that parent’s 14th birthday, the citizen parent currently has a parent (child’s grandparent) who:
- Is also a U.S. citizen, and
- Lived in the United States for 5 years, at least 2 of which were after the citizen grandparent’s 14th birthday and,
- May be living or deceased at the time of the adjudication of the application and the taking of the Oath.
- There are further requirements for eligibility; see the N-600K Form for more information.
Form N-600K must be filed with one of the USCIS offices in the United States.
For more information, please see the USCIS website page on “Citizenship of Children“.
In addition, the U.S. Department of State’s web pages on “Citizenship and Nationality” also provide detailed information on the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.