VIDEO: Certificates of Citizenship for those who are citizens by law

Most people are aware that if you are born in the U.S., you are automatically a U.S. citizen.

People are not aware that there are other situations where you can become a citizen by operation of law.  Typically, these situations involve the birth of a child to a U.S. citizen where the birth occurs outside of the U.S.  People can also become citizens if their parent naturalizes before they turn 18, under certain circumstances.

This video explains why and how someone can become a citizen by operation of law.  We also discuss how the N-600 Application for Certificate of Citizenship also helps alert USCIS of the fact of citizenship.


What is a Certificate of Citizenship and why do I need it?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney here in St. Louis, Missouri. A lot of people are familiar with the naturalization process, but they’re not always sure what happens when their child becomes a citizen, or how their children can become citizens as a matter of law. The answer to that question is you file for an application for Certificate of Citizenship.

Sometimes people become citizens by operation of law and they need proof of that status. Either they need it for a job, or to get a passport. Or most importantly, they need it to be able to get priority in sponsoring other family members to come to the United States. Without that Certificate of Citizenship, a lot of times the immigration service keeps you recorded as a green card holder and that can slow down your immigration case later. Let’s talk about how it works.

How can someone become a citizen by operation of law? Basically, there’s two ways where you would get citizenship by operation of law and the immigration service might not necessarily know it. The first is if you’re born outside the United States to a U.S. Citizen parent. Obviously a lot of people know that if you’re born inside the United States you’re automatically a citizen. That can also be true if you’re born outside the Unites States, but you need to document that. You need to go through certain hoops, so that immigration service treats you as the citizen that you are.

Other people can become a citizen by operation of law when their parent becomes a U.S. Citizen. If you are a green card holder, and if you’re in the United States and your parent becomes a U.S. Citizen. If they are your biological father or mother and they do it before you turn 18, if you’re in the United States with them and in their physical custody at the time that happens, under current law you would then become a citizen by operation of law.

The procedure’s actually pretty straight forward. You file an N-600, that’s the name of the application. You file the supporting documents and you explain in a letter to the immigration service why it is that you believe that you are a citizen by operation of law. Basically, what the N-600 in this application does is it alerts the immigration service to a change that might have already occurred. It’s a way for you to establish once and for all that you are in fact a citizen.

Adopted children can become citizens by operation of law and are entitled to that Certificate of Citizenship under certain circumstances. But it’s important to keep in mind that step-children cannot obtain citizenship through this part of the immigration process.

If you have any questions about the N-600, about applying for a Certificate of Citizenship, give us a call at 314-961-8200. Or you can always e-mail us, We’d be happy to help you get squared away. Thanks a lot and have a good day.