by George Barron




A person may become a U.S. citizen in one of two ways, either by birth or through naturalization.

There are several circumstances in which a person is born a citizen of the United States.Anyone who is born in the United States including most cases Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is a United States citizen at birth.There is a very limited exception to this rule, and that is that a person born in the United States to a foreign diplomat is not necessarily a United States citizen.Your United States birth certificate is proof of your citizenship status.

Some people born outside of the Unites States are also United States citizens.If both of your parents are United States citizens and you are born outside of the United States you will be an United States citizen if at least one of your parents lived in the United States at some point in their life.Most individuals in this situation will need to apply for documents to prove their citizenship.Generally, these documents are either a passport or “Certificate of Citizenship”.

Persons who are born outside the Untied States to one United States citizen parent are citizens of the United States if the citizen parent lived at least 5 years in the United States before the person was born and at least 2 of those 5 years were after the citizens parents 14th birthday.Again, individuals in this situation will need to apply for proof of citizenship, either a passport or a Certificate of Citizenship.

The rules regarding citizenship by birth outside the United States  have changed several times in the past several decades.  If you have any questions as to which set of rules applies, proceed with caution.

Those who are not U.S. citizens by birth may apply for citizenship through a process called naturalization.In order to be eligible for naturalization, several conditions must be met including the following:

·The applicant must have had a specific period of continuous residence in the United States, and physical presence in the United States;

·The applicant must have had residence in a particular USCIS district prior to filing in that district;

·The applicant must have a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government as well as good moral character;

·The applicant must be able to read, write, and speak English;

The applicant must swear allegiance to the United States.

The applicant for naturalization will be interviewed by a USCIS officer, and will have an appointment set to be finger printed.In addition, the applicant must take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States.This generally happens at an oath ceremony held at the USCIS office.Some specific circumstances regarding citizenship are more complicated.There are situations where an individual may gain citizenship through a parent, either when the parent adopts the non citizen child or when the parent becomes a citizen while the child is still a minor.Both procedures are fairly complex and you should contact my office for more information if you believe one of these situations applies to you.

George Barron, Esquire

88 North Franklin Street

Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701

Telephone (570) 824-3088

Fax: (570) 825-6675


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