Getting Proof of U.S. Citizenship for Foreign-Born Children of U.S. Citizens
If you received U.S. citizenship through acquisition or derivation, you are automatically a citizen without completing an application or passing a test. Acquisition is based on being born to a U.S. citizen parent, while derivation is based on a parent becoming a U.S. citizen after you were born but before you turned 18. However, you likely will want to get proof of citizenship from the U.S. government even if you have citizenship through acquisition or derivation. Sometimes a child under 18 also may be able to get citizenship through a faster track than the official naturalization process, even if they were not eligible for acquisition or derivation.
If you believe that you meet the requirements for citizenship through acquisition, you will need to provide USCIS with documents related to your birth. Your U.S. citizen parent may have registered your birth with a U.S. embassy or consulate in their country of residence, or with the U.S. State Department. If they registered your birth with a U.S. embassy or consulate, they would receive a document called FS-240 and entitled Report of a Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen. If they registered your birth with the State Department, they would receive a document called DS-1350 and entitled Certification of Report of Birth. (If they registered your birth with the State Department before November 1, 1990, they would receive a document called FS-545 and entitled Certification of Birth.) The State Department stopped issuing certifications after 2010, but its certifications remain valid and will support an application for a U.S. passport.
Children of U.S. parents who are 18 or older but do not have an FS-240 or a State Department certification can file Form N-600 with USCIS. This is an Application for Certificate of Citizenship. If you have citizenship through derivation rather than acquisition, you will need to submit this form. If your parent did not register your birth, and you have citizenship through acquisition, you also will need to submit this form. If the application succeeds, USCIS will send you a Certificate of Citizenship.
Additional Options for Children Under 18 Without Acquired or Derived Citizenship
Sometimes a child of a U.S. citizen will not be eligible for citizenship through acquisition or derivation. For example, perhaps their U.S. citizen parent did not have a sufficient period of residence in the U.S. If you are still under 18, your parent may be able to pursue a streamlined naturalization procedure for you under Section 322 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This allows the U.S. citizen parent to meet the residency requirement after the child’s birth if they did not meet the requirement before then. If you are still under 18 once your parent has met the residency requirement, you can become a citizen without completing the full naturalization application and taking the standard test. The U.S. citizen parent must submit an Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (Form N-600K).