United States Citizenship

If you are in the United States or are planning on coming to the U.S., your U.S. citizenship status may be of the utmost importance to you.  This is a complex area of law, and in many instances if you are in need of an immigration lawyer in Los Angeles, you may be quite literally fighting for your future!  At JCS Immigration and Visa you'll find a full service Los Angeles law office that specializes in both immigration, citizenship and nationality law and we are ready to help you determine and prove your U.S. citizenship status.  Call or email us for your free initial consultation today!


Who is a U.S. citizen according to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)?

There are several ways, in which you may be a citizen of the United States:

  1. You are probably a U.S. citizen if you were born in the U.S. or one of its territories or you were a lawful permanent resident who became a naturalized U.S. citizen;
  2. You may be a U.S. citizen if one of your parents or grandparents was born in the U.S. or one of its territories, OR if one or both of your parents was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth;
  3. You may be a U.S. citizen if one or both of your parents became a naturalized U.S. citizen before your 18th birthday.

If you can answer “yes” to any of the above scenarios, you may be a U.S. citizen.  Citizenship law and immigration law are some of the most complex areas of the law.  Immigration law is federal law which means our immigration lawyers are licensed to assist clients nationwide and worldwide.  If you have any questions or concerns about your U.S. citizenship status, call or email our experienced Los Angeles immigration attorneys for expert legal counsel.

US Passport

Am I a U.S. citizen by my own birth?

You are a U.S. citizen if you were born in one of the 50 U.S. states or in one of the following areas after the following dates:

  • Puerto Rico after January 13, 1941;
  • Virgin Islands after January 13, 1941;
  • Guam after December 24, 1952;
  • Northern Mariana Islands after November 4, 1986.

If you were born in one of the above locations before the dates listed, you might still be a U.S. citizen. The law in this area is very complicated, and we do not have space to describe it here. You should seek qualified legal counsel with an immigration lawyer to discuss your case so that you will be prepared when you have to speak with an Immigration Judge or immigration officer.  Feel free to contact our experienced immigration and citizenship lawyers at JCS Immigration and Visa Services.


Am I a U.S. citizen by transmission of United States Citizenship?

Transmission of U.S. citizenship at birth to a child born abroad is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Department of State interprets the INA to require a U.S. citizen parent to have a biological connection to a child in order to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child at birth.



Can I Become a U.S. citizen through an immigration and naturalization process?

Naturalization is a process for people who were not born in the U.S. to become U.S. citizens.  You may become a naturalized U.S. citizen if you have lawful permanent residency in the U.S, submit an application for U.S. naturalization, take a test on your knowledge of the English language and U.S. history, have an interview with Immigration and Naturalization Services, or the Department of Homeland Security, and take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. at a “swearing-in ceremony.” Usually, you must have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years before you can go through this process. If you got your lawful permanent residency through a petition by a U.S. citizen spouse, you can go through the naturalization process three years after getting your lawful permanent residency.

Natz Sample

Am I eligible to apply for Naturalization (N-400) with USCIS?

You may qualify for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, by filing Form N-400, if:

  1. You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  2. You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements;
  3. Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.

Some applications for U.S. citizenship through naturalization may be expedited as a result of your military service.  For more information, please read our sections on military service and naturalization.

Obtaining United States citizenship through the naturalization process is common, but the path has many turns and detours. Read more about the Naturalization process here. Our experienced immigration and naturalization lawyers can help you navigate the process to a successful finish.  Call or email JCS Immigration and Visa for a free initial consultation and get help specific to your case.

New US Citizens

Am I a U.S. citizen by derivation of U.S. Citizenship?

You may be a U.S. citizen if you were born outside the United States, but one or both of your parents were U.S. citizens when you were born.  This is called citizenship through derivation. Usually, there are additional specific requirements that you must meet prior to obtaining a naturalization certificate. In certain cases citizenship can be acquired through a combination of a parent and grandparent.   Due to the complexity of immigration law, seeking expert legal counsel may be to your benefit.  We can offer you dedicated experienced legal counsel at JCS Immigration and Visa. To schedule an initial telephone or an in-person consultation with an experienced citizenship or immigration lawyer, call or email today.


How do I derive U.S. citizenship?

You can derive U.S. citizenship if you gained U.S. citizenship through a parent.  This citizenship may even be granted automatically.   However, the rules for obtaining and proving U.S. citizenship through a parent comprises one the most complicated areas of immigration law.  The rules for how a child gets citizenship when a parent naturalizes differ from the rules that apply to a child born abroad to a parent who is already a U.S. citizen.  For a free initial consultation, and confidential legal counsel, contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys.


How do I apply for derivative citizenship with the Department of Homeland Security?

If you qualify for derivative citizenship through any of the three ways listed above, you are already a U.S. citizen and you do not need to apply for it. However, you must get proof of your citizenship to have your removal proceedings terminated. When you have proof of your citizenship you should file an application for a certificate of citizenship or for a passport. You apply for a certificate of citizenship with DHS by filing certain forms and applications.  Our experienced immigration and nationality lawyers are ready to help you complete your derivative citizenship application.  Call or email our U.S. immigration attorney in Los Angeles for your free initial consultation today! [LINK TO DERIVATIVE CITIZENSHIP]


What documents are usually accepted as proof of U.S. citizenship?

The most common types of documents to establish United States citizenship are:

  1. Birth Certificate, issued by a U.S. State or Territory, such as Puerto Rico (if the person was born in the United States), or by the Department of State (if the person was born abroad to U.S. citizen parents who then registered the child’s birth and U.S. citizenship through the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate abroad;
  2. U.S. Passport, issued by the Department of State;
  3. Certificate of Citizenship, issued to a person born outside of the U.S. who derived U.S. citizenship through a parent; or
  4. Certificate of Naturalization, issued to an individual who became a U.S. citizen after age 18 through the naturalization process

US Passport Sample

I was born in the United States, where can I get a copy of my birth certificate?

Check with the Department of Health (Vital Records) in the U.S. State in which you were born. For more information, visit the National Center for Health Statistics web page here.


What Immigration rights does a U.S. citizen have?

If you establish that you are a U.S. citizen, you cannot be detained by Department of Homeland Security over your citizenship or deported/removed from the U.S. regardless of your criminal history. Once you prove you are a U.S. citizen, DHS will never have the right to detain you or remove you from the United States.