New York Daily News

YOU’RE A CITIZEN!

Just get the proof

- ALLAN WERNICK

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 questions@allanwerni­ck.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.

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