Empowering Your Dreams

Happy family playing with kids

Empowering Your Dreams

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Immigration
  4.  → Check your family history for possible U.S. citizenship

Check your family history for possible U.S. citizenship

If you are from another nation and you plan to stay in the United States for a long time, you should understand how to mount a defense against efforts to remove you from the country. One possible defense may lie in your family history. Some foreign visitors do not know it, but they actually possess American citizenship. 

As an American citizen, you would have the right to reside in the United States. You may have acquired U.S. citizenship at some point when you were young and you do not remember it. It all depends on whether you had parents that were also citizens. 

Gaining citizenship from a parent

According to the USCIS, you may have automatically acquired citizenship on the date of or after February 27, 2001. You would have needed at least a single parent that already had citizenship through naturalization or birth. The parent can be your biological or adoptive parent. At the time, you must have been under 18 years old, were a lawful permanent resident, and resided in the U.S. in both legal and physical custody of a U.S. citizen parent. 

Gaining citizenship through naturalization

If you lived outside of the United States in your younger years, it is possible your parents had you undergo naturalization. This may have happened if you had at least one of your parents who was a citizen and you were in that parent’s legal or physical custody. However, you could have also been in the custody of someone who did not object to your parent’s application if your parent had died. 

Even if your citizen parent had died, you may have had a citizen grandparent who took care of the naturalization application on your behalf. You might have also resided with your grandparent for a time after naturalization. If you look into your family history and find indications that you had a parent who was a citizen, you should consider exploring the matter. You may find that you have a right to stay in the U.S. because of your citizenship.