New York Daily News
YOU’RE A CITIZEN!
Just get the proof
Q When I was 16, my mom became a U.S. citizen. Did I get citizenship automatically when she did? At the time she naturalized, I was a permanent resident. I am 36 now. When I went to fill out the naturalization application, the form says that if a parent became a U.S. citizen before you were 18, you may be already a citizen.
Abraham Fonllem, by email
A To claim U.S. citizenship through your mother, you need to look at the rules that apply to permanent residents who were already 18 on Feb. 27, 2001. Under these rules, a permanent resident child derived U.S. citizenship upon the naturalization of a parent if: l The other parent was or became a U.S. citizen before the child turned 18. l The child was born out of wedlock and the parent naturalized was the mother. l The child’s other parent was deceased. l The parents were divorced or separated and the parent being naturalized had legal custody of the child following the divorce or separation.
Readers not yet age 18 on Feb. 27, 2001, derived U.S. citizenship if: l At least one parent is a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalization. l The child is unmarried and not yet 18. l The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent . l The child is a permanent resident.
Under either set of rules, the order of events makes no difference. If a child is a permanent resident and under 18, and then the parent or parents naturalize, the child gets automatic citizenship. If the parent or parents naturalize and then the child gets permanent residence before turning 18, the child becomes a U.S. citizen the moment he or she becomes a permanent resident.
The quickest, easiest and least expensive way to get proof that you are a U.S. citizen is to apply for a U.S. passport. You can also apply for a Citizenship Certificate by filing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York's Citizenship Now! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, New York, N.Y. 10004 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.