Derived Citizenship definition

Derived citizenship is one of the ways in which a person may obtain US citizenship.

It is a form of acquired citizenship granted through laws of derivation introduced under the Child Citizenship Act. However, in order to obtain it set criteria must be met.

Below, we look over how the system works in practice and how this compares to other forms of gaining citizenship as a foreign national.

How Does Derived Citizenship Work?

Derived citizenship automatically conveys US citizenship to a foreign national.

It is earned when the children of foreign nationals are born on US soil to naturalized parents, or a non-citizen parent becomes a naturalized US citizen.

In both cases, citizenship is derived from them.

However, unlike most citizens, people who gain derived citizenship will not possess a US birth certificate as proof of citizenship.

Instead, a certificate of citizenship will be issued as proof of their rights as a legal US national.

Under the laws of acquisition, a child can be granted derived citizenship if they:

  • Have at least one US citizen parent
  • Are under 18
  • Are unmarried
  • Currently live in the USA
  • Is a lawful permanent resident of the United States

If the child was born out of wedlock, they must have a citizen mother or a father who is a naturalized US citizen who has legitimated the child under the law’s of their home or resident country.

Derived Citizenship Vs. Naturalized Citizenship

Derived citizenship and naturalized citizenship are quite similar as they are both ways of acquiring full US citizenship.

However, there are key differences between the two.

Derived citizenship is only granted to children of people who are already naturalized or become naturalized.

The process of naturalization however, is quite different. Instead, it allows permanent residents of the US to obtain a certificate of citizenship as adults.

Unlike derived citizenship, naturalized citizenship is not automatic. In this case the individual must be over the age of 18 and must apply directly for citizenship themselves.

How Adopted Children Can Get Derived US Citizenship

Children who are adopted from overseas may also gain derived citizenship once their adoption is final.

However, additional rules apply in this case of those being adopted. These include the following conditions:

  • The child must have entered the country legally with an IR4 visa.
  • Be under the age of 16 and have been in the legal custody of their adoptive parents for at least 2 years if they are not an orphan.

Their citizenship can then be partially demonstrated by their adoption records such as their US issued adoption papers. However, in order to prove their citizenship properly, they will also be issued a certificate of citizenship once the process has been completed.

However, for most US citizens a birth certificate is needed to demonstrate citizenship and access essential services, and obtain ID such as passports and driver’s licenses.

If you’ve lost or misplaced your certified birth certificate, you will need a replacement copy immediately to ensure you can access all your rights as a US citizen effectively. Find out how to get your replacement birth certificate now.