Law Offices of Stuart J. Reich, PLLC

Practice Limited to Immigration & Nationality Law

11 Broadway, Suite 615
New York, NY 10004

(212) 430-6582 phone
(212) 430-6583 facsimile

What IS US Citizenship, and how do you get there?

Q: What do we mean when we say someone has US citizenship?

A: Perhaps the simplest definition of citizenship is to say that a citizen of an nation is someone who enjoys all the rights, privileges and protections of that nation while also undertaking certain responsibilities to defend and participate in the public life of that nation. US Citizenship and Immigration Services, in its publications for individuals going through the naturalization process, often defines US citizenship in terms of the specific rights and responsibilities which define it.

Q: How does someone become a US citizen?

A: There are two ways to become a US citizen:

  • By operation of law – Where some provision of US law automatically makes someone a citizen without the person needing to do anything further; and
  • Through Naturalization - The process of applying to the US government for the benefit of US citizenship.

Q: What about people born in the US?

A: Most individuals physically born in the US, with very few exceptions, are automatically US citizens by operation of law.

Q: For those not born in the US but otherwise citizens by operation of law, is there a different process they need to complete?

A: Not to be a US citizen, but they often need to do something further to be able to prove that they are a US citizen (in other words, to obtain documentation of their US citizenship).

If physically in the US, the person can simply apply for a US passport - but they would need to provide evidence that they qualify under the law which they claim grants them citizenship.

Alternatively, they can apply to USCIS for a Certificate of Citizenship, providing the same types of evidence.

Contact us here to arrange a consultation, to inquire about retaining us to handle your immigration matter, or simply to suggest topics you would like to see covered on our site.

The above is presented for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. The information provided should not be used as guidance in pursuing an immigration matter absent consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.