Some people may become US citizens by operation of law even if they were not born in the United States. For example, if you were born outside of the US, but one or both of your parents were US citizens at the time of your birth, or if you were adopted as a child by one or more US citizen parents, you may already be a US citizen.
In the above situations, you may wish to have proof of your US citizenship. You can obtain a Certificate of Citizenship by filing Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Who can get a Certificate of Citizenship?
Two types of people may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship using Form N-600—those who acquired US citizenship at the time of their birth and those who derived their US citizenship at a later date.
If you are a biological child of a US citizen and you were born outside of the US, you are automatically a US citizen at birth if:
- You were born to two US citizen parents and at least one of them had a residence in the US (or any of its territories) that was established before your birth; or
- You were born to one US citizen parent who, before you were born, was physically present in the US for at least 5 years. At least two of these years must have been after your US citizen parent was 14 years old.
If you were born outside of the US to US citizen parents, or if you were adopted by US citizen parents, you may automatically derive US citizenship if the following conditions are met:
- You have at least one parent that is a US citizen (this parent may be a birth parent or adopted parent);
- You regularly reside in the US in the legal and physical custody of your US citizen parent(s);
- You have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence;
- You are a biological child, a legitimate child, or you were legitimated while in the custody of your legitimating parent before you turned 16 years old; or
- You are not a legitimate child, but your mother becomes a US citizen through naturalization.
If you are now 18 years old or older, but the above conditions applied to you before you turned 18 and you were under age 18 on February 27, 2001, you may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship. Additionally, you may apply for a Certificate of Citizenship if all of the following actions occurred before February 27, 2001 and before your 18th birthday:
- You resided in the US regularly after being admitted as a lawful permanent resident; and
- Both of your parents, the parent having sole legal custody of you, or your only surviving parent naturalized as a US citizen.
Please remember that US citizenship by operation of law is determined by the law that was in effect at the time of your birth. The description above applies only to people born on November 14, 1986 or later. If you were born before this date, different rules may apply to your situation.