U.S. Citizenship may be acquired in a number of ways:
- Persons born within the borders of the United States, except children of diplomats accredited to the United States.
- Persons born outside the United States to two U.S. citizen parents, as long as one parent has resided in the United States.
- Persons born outside the United States with one U.S. citizen parent, if that parent has met the residency requirements. The residency requirement varies based on the parent’s marital status at the time of birth and whether the mother or father is the U.S. citizen. The general rule is that the parent must have been physically present in the United States for a total of five years, two of those years after the age of 14. Single mothers must only have been physically present in the United States for one continuous year. See here for information on the documents needed to prove physical presence.
- Persons may become U.S. citizens through naturalization after residing in the United States as a legal permanent resident for a required period of time (usually five years).
- In rare situations, some children may be able to acquire U.S. citizenship through parents or grandparents via the Immigrant Visa process.