US Citizenship Through Parents & Grandparents

Former INS Citizenship Attorney (1976–80) Carl Shusterman discusses the laws which determine which persons born abroad are U.S. citizens. Schedule a legal consultation (by Skype, telephone or in person) at

US immigration laws allow certain persons born abroad to “acquire” or “derive” US citizenship through their parents and sometimes through their grandparents.

What if you were born abroad to U.S. citizen parents? You probably are a U.S. citizen, but you need to get some paperwork to prove this. Or what if you were born abroad and only one of your parents was a U.S. citizen at the time? That’s a little trickier. How do you determine if you “acquired” U.S. citizenship at birth through a parent, or if you obtained derivative citizenship as a minor through your parent(s)? Attorney Shusterman simplifies the complex laws regarding acquisition and derivation of US citizenship through parents and grandparents so that they are understandable to non-lawyers.

There are 4 Nationality Charts that attorneys use to assist them in such cases. These charts are difficult to find on the USCIS website so we replicate them on our website so that you can use them to begin your research.

Derivative citizenship laws are one of the most complex areas of immigration law, and Congress has amended these laws multiple times. Fortunately, Attorney Shusterman spent several years as an INS Citizenship Attorney in the 1970s adjudicating N-600 derivative citizenship applications. This experience proven invaluable. Since he entered private practice in 1982, he has helped hundreds of clients obtain U.S. citizenship through their parents and grandparents.

Some of these clients were in deportation proceedings, and would have been deported if Attorney Shusterman not been able to prove that they were U.S. citizens even though they were born abroad.

There are multiple strategies for proving that you are a U.S. citizen even though you were not born in the U.S. You may want to apply for a U.S. passport, or alternately, you can apply for a Certificate of Citizenship from the USCIS using form N-600.

For additional information regarding derviative citizenship, please see Our US Citizenship through Parents page at

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