With all of the hoopla surrounding President-elect Barack Obama and his birth certificate, not everyone is clear on whether or not a child born abroad is a US citizen. Having been born abroad to a Scottish mother in a quaint English hospital, I find the Barack Obama/birth certificate and eligibility issue particularly relevant. My father was a U.S. airman married to my mother and stationed in England at the time of my birth. I ended up with a certificate of birth abroad and dual citizenship. So what are the factors involved in determining if your child born abroad will be considered a US citizen?
Every year millions of children are born abroad to American parents. While many of these children are born on US military instillations to US parents, some children are born under less ‘favorable’ conditions, in so far as being able to determine US citizenship.
Is your child a US citizen?
In most cases, a child born abroad to at least 1 US citizen automatically has US citizenship. However, there are other factors involved when determining whether your child’s citizenship.
For children born abroad whose parents are both US citizens and married, at least 1 of the parents must have held residence within the US prior to the child’s birth.
For children born abroad whose parents are married and include 1 US citizen and 1 alien, the US parent must have held residence in the US for a specific amount of time: for children born between December 14, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of 10 years, 5 of which after the age of 14, for children born on or after November 14, 1985, 5 years, 2 of which must have been after the age of 14.
For children born abroad out of wedlock to a US father, they may acquire citizenship if:
The blood relationship is clearly established between father and child, the father is a citizen at time of birth, the father agrees in writing to provide financial support, the child is under 18, father acknowledges paternity, the applicant is legitimated by law and paternity is established by adjudication court.
For children born abroad out of wedlock to a US mother, they may acquire citizenship if the mother is a US citizen at time of birth and resided in the US for at least 1 year prior.
Birth Abroad, Barack Obama and the Presidency
President-elect Barack Obama, whose birth certificate reveals a US birth to a US mother and Kenyan father, qualifies as a US citizen. However, the validity of Barack Obama’s birth certificate is still questionable to some Americans, who believe the certificate is faked and that Barack Obama was born abroad. Even if Barack Obama’s birth certificate revealed a birth abroad to a US mother, Obama would likely qualify for the Presidency (though the lying factor would negate that). Barack Obama isn’t the only politician to receive scrutiny as to whether or not he qualifies as a US citizen and potential President. John McCain’s eligibility was questioned due to his birth abroad to military parents. The Constitution states that to qualify for the office of President, a person must be a natural born citizen. The Constitution does not, however, define the term natural born citizen. However, in 1790, Congress provided the Naturalization Act of 1790 which states “And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens.”
While some are unclear on exactly what constitutes as a natural born citizen, most Americans believe that children born abroad to US parents and who qualify as US citizens should be eligible for the Presidency.