There are several instances in which you may need to prove your U.S. citizenship, like applying for a job or Medicaid, among others. If you were born in the United States (including on U.S. military grounds and U.S. territory abroad), you can prove your citizenship through a simple birth certificate.

However, if you were born outside the U.S. but one or both of your parents were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth, you may be a citizen of the U.S. yourself. In some cases, you can have citizenship through a combination of a parent and grandparent.

Citizenship given to children under the naturalization of parents is referred to as “derivative citizenship” or “citizenship through derivation.” In certain circumstances, derivative citizenship can also be conveyed to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents.

Which Documents Can I Use to Prove My Citizenship?

Typically, the documents that establish one’s citizenship are:

  • Birth certificate issued by U.S. State or if born abroad to U.S. citizen parents who registered the child’s birth and citizenship with the U.S. Embassy or consulate, a birth certificate issued by the U.S. Department of State.
  • U.S. Passport
  • Certificate of Citizenship, issued to a person born abroad who derived or acquired U.S. citizenship through a U.S. citizen parent
  • Certificate of Naturalization, issued to those who became a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process

To have your citizenship recognized, you have two main options. The first is to fill out Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship. The second way is to apply for a U.S. passport. Many people prefer this option because it can also be used as a travel document, so you save yourself an extra step. U.S. citizens who will have or recently had children born abroad may register their child’s U.S. citizenship through U.S. Department of State or the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the country where the child was born.

What if I lost my certificate of citizenship or changed my name?

Our office can help you file for a replacement certificate of citizenship if yours is lost or destroyed. Likewise, we can help you get a replacement if you have changed your name.

What if the State Department will not issue me a passport because they do not believe I was born in the U.S.?

Unfortunately, we have seen several cases in which the State Department refuses to issue a U.S. passport, even if the applicant has a U.S. birth certificate, because the person was born to a midwife near the U.S.-Mexico border. We have also seen cases where the State of Texas will refuse to issue a driver’s license or even a certified copy of a birth certificate because they questioned its legitimacy. Our office has had success in helping clients obtain these needed documents. Contact our office for a free consultation.

How Can an Immigration Lawyer Help?

Derivative citizenship can be quite complex, especially in cases in which your parents did not register your birth or citizenship when you were born. This is why it’s recommended that you have a legal professional look over your case and help you proceed with the best course of action. Since citizenship laws and standards have changed over the years, it can be difficult to know whether or not you qualify as a U.S. citizen and if so, how to obtain proof of citizenship. The immigration lawyers at Salmon-Haas have significant experience with topics related to U.S. citizenship and can be a resource for you. We are here to represent you and answer any questions you may have. To take the next step, contact us for a free and confidential consultation.

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