Citizenship Services

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REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSMISSION OF US CITIZENSHIP AT BIRTH

In order to transmit U.S. citizenship to a child, the U.S. citizen parent(s) must have been a U.S. citizen at the time of the child’s birth and must have accrued sufficient physical presence in the U.S. to transmit citizenship.  The physical presence requirements depend on the child’s date of birth and the marital status of the parents at the time of the child’s birth.

For your child to benefit from US citizenship at the time of birth, US nationality law requires that certain conditions must be met.  The conditions have been modified by legislation over time, but none of the modifications were made retroactive, hence the variations defined here.  Below are the circumstances governing most instances.

Child born to two U.S. citizen parents who are married at the time of birth: A child born outside of the United States or its outlying possessions to two U.S. citizen parents is entitled to citizenship, provided that one of the parents, prior to the birth of the child, had been resident in the United States (the law does not specify a specific length of residence time.)

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother on or before June 11, 2017:  A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may be entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of at least one year (365 days) at some time prior to the birth of the child.  NOTE: Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, are NOT considered as physical presence in the U.S. for transmission under this category.

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen mother on or after June 12, 2017:  A child born outside of the United States and out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen mother may be entitled to U.S. citizenship providing the U.S. Citizen mother had been physically present in the United States for at least 5 years, 2 after the age of 14 at some time prior to the birth of the child.  NOTE: Periods spent overseas with the U.S. government/military or as a government/military dependent, are NOT considered as physical presence in the U.S. for transmission under this category.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non U.S. citizen parent on or after November 14, 1986:  A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. citizen parent, prior to the birth of the child, had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for five years, at least two years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent on December 24, 1952 until November 13, 1986:  A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. Citizen parent, prior to the birth of the child, had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of fourteen.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent on July 4, 1946 until December 23, 1952:  A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. Citizen parent, prior to the birth of the child, had been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a period of ten years, at least five years of which were after s/he reached the age of sixteen.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent  on January 13, 1941 until July 3, 1946:  A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. Citizen parent, prior to the birth of the child, had been physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions, any time before the applicant’s birth.

Child born in wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent before January 13, 1941: A child born outside of the United States to one U.S. Citizen parent and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, may be entitled to citizenship provided the U.S. Citizen parent had, prior to the birth of the child, been physically present in the United States any time before the applicant’s birth.

Child born out of wedlock to a U.S. Citizen father: A child born outside of the United States to a U.S. Citizen father where there is no marriage to the non-American mother is entitled to U.S. Citizenship provided the American citizen father had been physically present in the United States for the period of time as specified in previous paragraphs for children born in wedlock to one U.S. Citizen and one non-U.S. Citizen parent, either before or after November 14, 1986

Persons born to a U.S. citizen mother and non-U.S. citizen father automatically are considered legitimated.

Persons born in wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and non-U.S. citizen mother are legitimated by virtue of the marriage of the parents.  Evidence of the marriage should be submitted.

Persons born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and non-U.S. citizen mother and not legitimated by the natural parents’ subsequent marriage can be legitimated under the Immigration and Nationality Act by one of two methods indicated below.

Method 1:  The person can be legitimated if:

  •  While the person is under the age of 18 years old, the father acknowledged paternity of the person in writing under oath or the paternity of the person was established by adjudication of a competent court,  and
  •  Before the applicant reached the age of 18, the father (unless deceased before the applicant’s 18th birthday) agreed in writing and under oath to provide financial support for the applicant until the applicant reaches the age of 18 years old.

 Method 2:  The U.S. citizen father must demonstrate that he:

  •  had legal residence in any of the States in the U.S. (after his child’s birth and before the age by which legitimation must occur),  and
  •  has met that state’s legal requirements to legitimate the child, then the laws of that state may legitimate the applicant.

Note: Legitimation requirements vary depending on the State legitimation law.  The Applicant must submit proof of the particular state’s law, and evidence of the legitimating act based on State requirement.  The legal evidence of residence may include driver’s license, voter registration card, rental/mortgage/bank receipts, military records, old letters (with U.S. return address), etc.

Persons born out of wedlock to a U.S. citizen father and non-U.S. citizen mother should use the table to determine which Legitimation Method applies to his/her case:

Date of Birth of the Person Applying for U.S. citizenship
Applicable Method
Age by Which Legitimation Must Occur

On or before 11/14/68
Method 2
21

On or after 11/15/68 and before 11/14/86
Method 2
(turned 18 y.o.  before 11/14/1986)
21
Method 1
(turned 18 y.o. after 11/14/1986)
18

On or after 11/14/86
Method 1
18

A biological relationship with the child/applicant and the claimed U.S. citizen parent must be established.  The burden of proving the blood relationship is on the person making the claim to U.S. citizenship.  When no substantive form of credible evidence is available in conjunction with a CRBA application, a parent may find genetic testing to be a useful tool for confirming a stated biological relationshpi.

Note: Do not initiate a DNA test unless it is recommended by the Embassy for your pending CRBA application.  A DNA test that is done independently will not be accepted to support a CRBA or Passport application.  For more information, read the DNA Procedures.  Click here for the English version. (PDF 114 KB)  Click here for the Filipino version. (PDF 104 KB)

A biological relationship with the child/applicant and the claimed U.S. citizen parent must be established.  The burden of proving the blood relationship is on the person making the claim to U.S. citizenship.  When no substantive form of credible evidence is available in conjunction with a CRBA application, a parent may find genetic testing to be a useful tool for confirming a stated biological relationshpi.

Note: Do not initiate a DNA test unless it is recommended by the Embassy for your pending CRBA application.  A DNA test that is done independently will not be accepted to support a CRBA or Passport application.  For more information, read the DNA Procedures.  Click here for the English version. (PDF 114 KB) Click here for the Filipino version. (PDF 104 KB)

U.S. Policy on Dual Nationality

The Department of State is responsible for determining the citizenship status of a person located outside the United States or in connection with the application for a U.S. passport while in the United States. The following information explains dual nationality and U.S. citizenship, including circumstances where U.S. citizenship may be lost.

What is dual nationality? 

Dual nationality is the simultaneous possession of two citizenships. When a person is naturalized in a foreign state (or otherwise possesses another nationality) and is thereafter found not to have lost U.S. citizenship, the individual consequently may possess dual nationality. It is prudent, however, to check with authorities of the other country to see if dual nationality is permissible under local law. The United States does not favor dual nationality as a matter of policy, but does recognize its existence in individual cases.The Supreme Court of the United States has stated that dual nationality is “a status long recognized in the law” and that “a person may have and exercise rights of nationality in two countries and be subject to the responsibilities of both. The mere fact that he asserts the rights of one citizenship does not without more mean that he renounces the other,” (Kawakita v. U.S., 343 U.S. 717, 1952). (The Embassy does not have Supreme Court cases on file; interested parties may wish to consult with local law school libraries.) These concepts apply also to persons who have more than two nationalities.

How is dual nationality acquired? 

Dual nationality results from the fact that there is no uniform rule of international law relating to the acquisition of nationality. Each country has its own laws on the subject, and its nationality is conferred upon individuals on the basis of its own independent domestic policy. Individuals may have dual nationality not by choice but by automatic operation of these different and sometimes conflicting laws.

The laws of the United States, no less than those of other countries, contribute to the situation because they provide for acquisition of U.S. citizenship by birth in the United States and also by birth abroad to an American, regardless of the other nationalities which a person might acquire at birth. For example, a child born abroad to U.S. citizens may acquire at birth not only American citizenship but also the nationality of the country in which it was born. Similarly, a child born in the United States to foreigners may acquire at birth both U.S. citizenship and a foreign nationality.The laws of some countries provide for automatic acquisition of citizenship after birth — for example, by marriage. In addition, some countries do not recognize naturalization in a foreign state as grounds for loss of citizenship. A person from one of those countries who is naturalized in the United States keeps the nationality of the country of origin despite the fact that one of the requirements for U.S. naturalization is a renunciation of other nationalities.

Current law and policy 

The current nationality laws of the United States do not specifically refer to dual nationality. The automatic acquisition or retention of a foreign nationality does not affect U.S. citizenship; however, under limited circumstances, the acquisition of a foreign nationality upon one’s own application or the application of a duly authorized agent may cause loss of U.S. citizenship under Section 349 (a)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 U.S.C. 1481 (a)(1)].

In order for loss of nationality to occur under Section 349 (a)(1), it must be established that the naturalization was obtained voluntarily by a person eighteen years of age or older with the intention of relinquishing U.S. citizenship. Such an intention may be shown by the person’s statements or conduct (Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252, 1980), but as discussed below in most cases it is assumed that Americans who are naturalized in other countries intend to keep their U.S. citizenship. As a result, they have both nationalities.

United States law does not contain any provisions requiring U.S. citizens who are born with dual nationality to choose one nationality or the other when they become adults (Mandoli v. Acheson, 344 U.S. 133, 1952). While recognizing the existence of dual nationality and permitting Americans to have other nationalities, the U.S. Government does not endorse dual nationality as a matter of policy because of the problems that it may cause. Claims of other countries upon dual-national U.S. citizens often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other. In addition, their dual nationality may hamper efforts to provide diplomatic and consular protections to them when they are abroad.

Allegiance to which country? 

It is generally considered that while dual nationals are in the country of which they are citizens that country has a predominant claim on their allegiance. As with Americans who possess only U.S. citizenship, dual national U.S. citizens owe allegiance to the United States and are obliged to obey its laws and regulations. Such persons usually have certain obligations to the other country as well. Although failure to fulfill such obligations may have no adverse effect on dual nationals while in the United States because the other country would have few means to force compliance under those circumstances, dual nationals might be forced to comply with those obligations or pay a penalty if they go to the country of their other citizenship. In cases where dual nationals encounter difficulty in a foreign country of which they are citizens, the ability of U.S. Consular Officers to provide assistance may be quite limited since many foreign countries may not recognize a dual national’s claim to U.S. citizenship.

Which passport to use? 

Section 215 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1185) requires U.S. citizens to use U.S. passports when entering or leaving the United States unless one of the exceptions listed in Section 53.2 of Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations applies. (One of these exceptions permits a child under the age of 12, who is included in the foreign passport of a parent who has no claim to U.S. citizenship, to enter the United States without a U.S. passport, provided the child presents evidence of his/her U.S. citizenship when entering the United States.) Dual nationals may be required by the other country of which they are citizens to enter or leave that country using its passport, but do not endanger their U.S. citizenship by complying with such a requirement.

How to give up dual nationality? 

Most countries have laws which specify how a citizen may lose or divest citizenship. Generally, persons who do not wish to maintain dual nationality may renounce the citizenship which they do not want. Information on renouncing a foreign nationality may be obtained from the foreign country’s Embassies and Consulates or from the appropriate governmental agency in that country. Americans may renounce their U.S. citizenship abroad pursuant to Section 349 (a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act [8 U.S.C. 1481 (a)(5)]. Information on renouncing U.S. citizenship may be obtained from U.S. Embassies and Consulates and the Office of Consular Services, Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520.

Furthermore, an American citizen who is naturalized as a citizen of another country voluntarily and with intent to abandon his/her allegiance to the United States may so indicate their intent and thereby lose U.S. citizenship. See below for further information. For further information on dual nationality, see Marjorie M. Whiteman’s Digest of International Law (Department of State Publication 8290, released September 1967), Volume 8, pages 64-84.