California parents may be interested to learn that their own quests for citizenship can have direct impacts on their childrens' status. There were already multiple avenues by which children who were under the age of 18 on Feb. 18, 2001 could obtain citizenship. Under today's more-lenient guidelines, however, many other children may be eligible for citizenship based on their parent's naturalization.
Derivative rules grant automatic U.S. citizenship to children under a number of conditions when one of their parents becomes naturalized. For instance, if the other parent earned their citizenship before the child's 18th birthday or was deceased, a child may be granted citizenship. Children whose parents were unmarried at the time of their births may be granted citizenship if their mother was the naturalized parent, but those whose fathers naturalized are not afforded the same right.
Children can also gain derived citizenship when they're unmarried or less than 18 years old. Experts say that the sequence in which the various conditions are satisfied doesn't matter; a child might earn citizenship status as soon as their parents naturalize and they've already fulfilled other requirements, or they may gain citizenship following events like acquiring status as a permanent U.S. resident.
Citizenship laws change over time, and factors like public perception and political climates can play a significant role in the hoops people have to jump through. The bars to obtaining citizenship can be somewhat confusing, and parents who are already pursuing their own naturalization, visas or residency may not be aware of the various ways their own status affects their children. Consulting with citizenship attorneys could potentially shed some insight on the process and the best options for a given situation.