Many immigrants in California want to become naturalized U.S. citizens, but they might not understand how the process works. The law could apply differently based on someone’s specific immigration category. A child of a United States citizen, for example, follows family-based immigration statutes.
Child of a U.S. citizen
If at least one parent is a U.S. citizen, a child born abroad is automatically a U.S. citizen. When a child is born in the United States, he or she is a U.S. citizen regardless of either parent’s immigration or citizenship status.
When a child is born overseas and one or both parents were immigrants who became U.S. citizens or permanent residents, the parents may petition for the child’s citizenship. The rules are different between lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens in some ways. A lawful permanent resident may not petition for a married child, but a U.S. citizen may.
Lawful permanent resident to U.S. citizen
When bringing a child to the United States through a family petition, the petitioner applies for the child’s lawful permanent resident status. Lawful permanent residents may then apply for citizenship after meeting specific requirements, such as maintaining LPR status for a minimum of five years. Lawful permanent residents married to U.S. citizens face a three-year wait instead of five.
Immigration and citizenship rules might be confusing to those not familiar with the statutes. Some people do not know the steps for registering the birth of a U.S. citizen abroad and other matters. A lack of familiarity could delay actions and potentially slow down the immigration process.
Anyone with concerns about family-based immigration petitions could consult with an attorney. An attorney may assist with initial filings, appeals, motions and representation in court as needed.