What are the Pathways to American Citizenship?

On Behalf of | Sep 6, 2021 | Immigration |

People who were born in the United States are the lucky ones as they automatically receive American citizenship. Yet, Texas residents have several other routes to U.S. Citizenship even if they weren’t born here.

Three additional paths to citizenship

If you were born abroad but both of your parents were United States citizens at the time of your birth, you automatically have citizenship through acquisition. The same holds if at least one parent was a United States citizen and were married at the time of your birth. The parent must meet several other conditions, including residing in the United States after their 14th birthday.

Another route is citizenship through derivation. This citizenship/naturalization pathway is possible if you are under 18 and your parent naturalizes. You receive citizenship automatically but do not have to participate in a naturalization ceremony. At the time of parental naturalization, you must be a green card holder, have at least one parent who became a citizen, and resides in the citizen parent’s legal and physical custody.

The last route is citizenship through naturalization. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and generally fall into three categories:

  • Lived in the United States legally for five years
  • Lived in the United States legally for three years and are married to a U.S. Citizen
  • Qualifying service in the Armed Forces

Applicants usually need help

The citizenship process can be complicated. You’ll have forms to fill out and must abide by the stated process. Citizenship through acquisition or derivation also depends on laws that were in effect at the time of your birth.

Various organizations have resources that can help you achieve citizenship. Finding legal advice is also a way to ensure that you have everything in order.