New York Daily News

Daughter who was born overseas is U.S. citizen

- ALLAN WERNICK Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the New York City College’s Citizenshi­p NOW! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, N.Y., 10004. Wernick’s website: allanwerni­ Follow

THE U.S. Citizenshi­p and Immigratio­n Services has yet to announce details of President Obama’s Dreamer plan for undocument­ed youth. My guess is that the USCIS won’t provide definitive filing informatio­n until August. For qualifying requiremen­ts, read my columns at nydailynew­

Meanwhile, Dreamer advocates should focus on this key demand: Travel permission, called advanced parole. As I explained last week, Dreamers who return to the United States legally after travel abroad may have an easier time getting permanent residence.

QI am a U.S. citizen. My daughter was born in the Dominican Republic. She came here as a permanent resident at age 5. Is she a U.S. citizen? I was a U.S. citizen at the time of my daughter’s birth. After her birth, I applied for a U.S. passport for her at the U.S. Embassy in the Dominican Republic. An officer there said she didn’t qualify because I hadn’t spent enough time in the United States before her birth. So, I applied for a green card for her and she immigrated in 2004. She has been living here since, and is now 13.

Dionmi Colon, Bronx A Your daughter is a U.S. citizen. Under current law, an unmarried child who enters with an immigrant visa before age 18, who comes to join a U.S. citizen mother, derives U.S. citizenshi­p upon entry. For proof, she can get a U.S. passport.

Your question illustrate­s the different rules for acquisitio­n of citizenshi­p at birth and derivation of citizenshi­p for a permanent resident child. A child sometimes acquires citizenshi­p at birth if at least one parent is a U.S. citizen. The rules vary depending on the law in place at the time of the child’s birth. In all cases, one U.S. citizen parent must have resided in the United States. How long depends on whether the parents were married and whether only one or both were U.S. citizens.

Assuming the consular officer was correct in determinin­g that your daughter did not acquire citizenshi­p at birth, she then derived it when she entered the United States as a permanent resident.

Q My U.S. citizen fiancé and I are getting married. After that we want to start the applicatio­n process for my green card. Can you help me with the process? What are your fees?

Laura Sola, New York

A I no longer represent individual­s in immigratio­n and citizenshi­p matters. As a columnist for the Daily News and as Director of the City University of New York’s immigratio­n law service program, Citizenshi­p NOW!, representi­ng individual­s might be seen as a conflict. I don’t want readers to think that I am telling them they have a path to legal status just so they can hire me to get there.

In any event, if you entered the United States legally and you don’t have a criminal record, your case should be quite simple. If you entered without legal papers, it could be difficult, but you likely still will get permanent residence. Either way, you can find free or low-cost advice at one of the many not-for-profit agencies that provide that service. You can get a referral to an agency near you by calling the New York City informatio­n number, 311. Applicants outside New York City can find a list of immigratio­n law service providers recognized by the government’s Executive Office for Immigratio­n Review at You can find another national directory, developed by, at www.immigratio­ Finally, free assistance in completing immigratio­n forms is available from CUNY Citizenshi­p NOW!, the citizenshi­p and immigratio­n law service project I direct. Find a location near you at­pnow.

Readers wanting to hire a lawyer can contact the Bar Associatio­n Referral Panel at (212) 626-7373 or use the American Immigratio­n Lawyers Associatio­n, Immigratio­n Lawyer Search at

Q My wife and I filed to have the condition removed from her permanent residence. We are still waiting. Meanwhile, her two-year conditiona­l card expired in March. What is our next step? My wife came here originally on a fiancé(e) visa. We married and I petitioned for her. The USCIS granted her two-year conditiona­l residence and, before it expired, we applied for her permanent card. USCIS wrote back saying that her status was extended for one year. Does she need to apply for a new card?

E.B., Hempstead A It is taking about a year for the USCIS to issue decisions in cases like yours. In the meantime, your wife need not apply for a new card. The letter from USCIS is proof that she is still a permanent resident. She can use it for employment and travel. Also, once she has been a conditiona­l permanent resident for two years and nine months, she can apply to naturalize. She qualifies after only three years residence instead of the usual five as a permanent resident who has been living with and married to the same U.S. citizen spouse for three years.

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