Your eventual goal is to become a U.S. citizen. It hasn’t happened yet, but that’s just because you’ve only been here for a few years. You have your green card and a good job in the United States, and you and your spouse got married and decided to start a family.
As you have these children, they are all born in the U.S. Does this mean that they are citizens? Or are they going to have to go through the citizenship process just like you will? Technically, you are still a citizen of your home country, even though you haven’t lived there in years and the children have never lived there permanently.
U.S. law makes your children automatically citizens
You may not yet be a citizen, but there is good news for your children if that’s the goal that you want for them. If they were born in the United States, the law here means that they are immediately citizens upon being born. The status of their parents is not taken into account in a situation like this. Things would be different if the children had been born in your home country and then they came over with you when you immigrated, but the fact that you came to the U.S. first and then had your children here means that they get citizenship before you even get it yourself.
What if you weren’t documented?
In this hypothetical example, you are a legal permanent resident. You immigrated legally and you are documented, even though you’re not a citizen. You’re allowed to be in the United States.
But what if you weren’t? If you were undocumented – say you entered the country on a visa and then overstayed that visa, which is the most common way that undocumented individuals wind up in the U.S. – would that mean that your children were not citizens?
Interestingly, your status would not impact them at all. A child born to undocumented individuals is still a citizen if he or she is born in the United States. In fact, having a child who is a citizen may help you get citizenship yourself.
When the legal process gets complicated
You can see how complex this legal process can be, and you and your family have a lot at stake. Make sure you are well aware of all of the steps you’ll need to take and the rights you have.