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Is my child a U.S. citizen at birth?

If your child is born in California or elsewhere in the United States, or in one of the country’s outlying possessions, he or she is a citizen. However, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services states that when the birth occurs in another country, there are conditions that must be met before your child can be identified as a citizen at birth.

Your child is born a citizen if you and the child’s other parent are married, you are both U.S. citizens, and one or both of you have lived in the country. When only one of you is a citizen, but the spouse is a U.S. national, the citizen parent must have spent at least one continuous year living in the country or its outlying possessions. The requirements for the U.S. citizen parent are more stringent if the spouse is a foreign national. In this case, the citizen’s presence in the United States must be a minimum of five years, and two or more of those must occur after the age of 14.

A mother who is a U.S. citizen at the time of birth does not need to be married to confer citizenship to her child if she lived in the country for at least one continuous year at some point before the birth. If you are a non-genetic mother giving birth through Assisted Reproductive Technology, the baby is a citizen if he or she is legally recognized as your child at birth if all the other conditions are met, too.

If you are an unmarried father, your U.S. citizenship is conferred to your child if you are a citizen at the time of the birth, you meet all the other requirements regarding residency, and there is evidence of a blood relationship. Also, you must provide a written document stating that the child will remain under your financial support until the age of 18. Finally, you must establish the paternity of your child. This can be done by acknowledging the fact in writing and under oath, legitimating the child according to the law of the place where the child lives, or through a court adjudication.

Other factors may apply, depending on your situation. Although this basic summary may help you understand some of the requirements, it is not legal advice, and should not be taken as such.

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