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I am currently trying to obtain a German passport, my mother is German and therefore I have a right to citizenship. However, German citizenship laws say that you can lose German citizenship if you apply and choose to take up another passport.

I obtained a U.S. passport while I was a minor, because my father held a U.S. passport and I was a legal U.S. resident, therefore I was automatically eligible as his child.

I have spoken with the German embassy in London (I am also British, by birth), and provided all relevant documents and they confirmed with me my eligibility for a German passport, however they require proof of how/when I obtained my U.S. passport to prove that it does not contravene the aforementioned policy about obtaining new citizenship.

That's where I'm having some trouble, I need documentation to prove that I obtained citizenship while still a minor. I became a U.S. citizen quite close to my 18th birthday so my passport issue date fell after my 18th birthday. I don't have any documentation from the process of getting my U.S. citizenship, so I'm at a loss of how to get the documents I need.

I looked up the process on the USCIS website, and it looks like a form N-600 would have been submitted. Is there some way I could get a copy of it from the government, or is there another document that would be able to provide the proof I need?

Update: If there is a way to prove when I received my green card, that might also suffice. As with that information I could prove that on that date I fulfilled all of the criteria to be automatically a U.S. citizen.

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    You can get a copy of your passport records. The records for your first passport may contain a copy or description of whatever document convinced the State Department that you were an American citizen. – Gerard Ashton Jan 2 at 5:17
  • Or try filing N-565, replace certificate of citizenship. – mkennedy Jan 2 at 17:26
  • @GerardAshton It sounds like a copy of my original passport application and just the date it was approved would suffice. Would anyone be able to confirm it will tell me the date it was approved? – Mr. King Jan 3 at 2:53
  • Do you know when your father was naturalized as a US citizen? The sentence "I became a U.S. citizen quite close to my 18th birthday so my passport issue date fell after my 18th birthday." carries a strong implication that neither parent was a citizen of the USA when you were born, because if they were, you would have been a citizen from birth (although not proved until later). – Ben Voigt Feb 16 at 19:29
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    @BenVoigt The passport application wasn't an application for US citizenship, it was an acknowledgement with the US authorities that I had already automatically inherited my father's citizenship as a child. Therefore, it is not in contravention of German citizenship law on voluntarily taking another citizenship. Nonetheless, I will provide an update later in the week. – Mr. King Feb 16 at 20:39
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Here is everything that I learnt throughout this process:

I was not born a U.S. citizen, and I did not naturalise. Instead, I inherited U.S. citizenship at the moment I became an LPR (Legal Permanent Resident), because I both had a parent with citizenship and I was under the age of 18.

There is no paperwork to file to inherit citizenship this way, it is completely automatic and as a result there are people in the U.S. that do not know they are citizens. In order to assert that I was now a U.S. citizen, I just had to apply for either a U.S. passport, or a Certificate of Citizenship. There is no deadline to do this, because I was a fully-fledged citizen from the day of approval of my Permanent Residence application.

When I applied for my U.S. passport, I simply had to prove that I was a child at the time of receiving my Green Card, and that one parent was a U.S. citizen.

This is exactly what I had to provide the German consulate. I provided my own birth certificate, my I-485 form (with approval date) and my father's naturalisation certificate. Those were accepted without question.

To obtain a copy of my Form I-485, I had to file a FOIA request--I used a Form G-639 to make it easier--and I emailed it to uscis.foia@uscis.dhs.gov.

I did attempt to get a copy of my passport application, as I filed that while under 18, but I was told by the State Department that they did not have a copy of it (curiously, several months later a full copy of my original passport application arrived by post from the State Department...). The response was not a surprise as when I applied for a passport at the age of 17, I was told by the official that they do not keep a record of my application, so I should also have a Passport Card in case my passport goes missing and I must prove citizenship.

Under German citizenship law, one loses citizenship when "voluntarily" obtaining another citizenship. The reason that I did not lose my citizenship when I became a U.S. citizen was because: I was a child, and it happened automatically. Therefore, it is not considered voluntary. Luckily, I did not have to explain this, since it was a consulate in the U.S. (Houston, TX) that I visited, they were well aware of the way in which I inherited U.S. citizenship. However, I had some trouble when dealing with the London embassy as they did not understand all of the U.S. citizenship qualifiers.

I hope this helps anyone else that finds themselves in a similar situation! I was completely lost when I started this process, but three months later I have my German passport in my hand.

  • Did you have to explain the US law that caused you to be a US citizen to the German consulate, or did they already know about it? Also, I am curious: since the approval of your LPR status automatically made you a US citizen, you never should have actually received a green card, because the moment the application was approved you became ineligible for a green card. Did you ever actually receive a physical card? – phoog Oct 9 at 15:04
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    @phoog I did not have to explain anything to the German consulate in Texas. They were well aware of the US citizenship law because they deal with it every day. However, I did speak to the German embassy in London too and had to explain to them the US laws. I did indeed receive a Green Card, although it was virtually immediately taken away from me when I got to my local passport office--as I was indeed a citizen and not eligible to have one. This is what I was referring to when I mentioned that there must be in the US who are citizens through this law and don't realise it. – Mr. King Oct 9 at 15:13
  • I did have to have possession of a physical Green Card to apply for my passport, as it was documentary proof that I was an LPR. While the law takes effect "automatically", the US government isn't intrinsically aware of inherited citizenship so they processed my application just like any other residency application. Everyone who inherits citizenship like this must also go to a passport office to assert that they are a citizen by applying for a passport (or by applying for a Certificate of Citizenship). – Mr. King Oct 9 at 15:22
  • So in effect the people processing your green card weren't aware that your father was a citizen, is that it? It seems like if they were they should instead have sent you a notice of approval of your application and an explanation that they couldn't send you the green card because you were a US citizen. I've read of people who were US citizens under that law who were deported, or who found out that they were US citizens from the immigration lawyer they hired because they were in removal proceedings, so your suspicion about people being unaware is correct. – phoog Oct 9 at 15:28
  • I'm not entirely sure if my application for a Green Card made it clear that my father was a citizen, to be honest. There are a few factors that may have obfuscated it, he had only recently naturalised and I was eligible for a Green Card based simply on his residency (because I was a child), but I also qualified because of his marriage to a US citizen (thus my natural-born-citizen step-mother was probably on the application too, but I can't inherit her citizenship). So, I don't know what the internal processes are, but in terms of them missing that fact on my application is certainly forgivable – Mr. King Oct 9 at 15:51
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and it looks like a form N-600 would have been submitted

Not necessarily. If you were a permanent resident under 18 living in the US with a US citizen parent, you automatically became a US citizen, and thereafter you can apply for a US passport directly without getting a Certificate of Citizenship first. Many people who derived US citizenship as permanent resident minors just get US passports and never bother to shell out the $1,170 fee to file N-600 for a Certificate of Citizenship.

If you could prove that you were a US permanent resident before you turned 18 (e.g. a copy of your old green card, or I-485 approval, or entry stamp on an immigrant visa) and met all the conditions for automatically deriving US citizenship, that could technically prove that you became a US citizen before 18, but I am not sure whether German authorities would be willing to basically adjudicate a complicated area of US nationality law, so I am not sure they would accept such evidence.

If all else fails, you may have to file N-600 to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship (paying the huge fee) now if you had never gotten one (or get a replacement by filing N-565 if you had gotten one) because that is the one thing that will definitively state when you became a US citizen.

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    Since posting this question I filed a PA request and got a copy of my I-485 form, which shows it was approved 11 days before I turned 18. I have an appointment to bring that, along with my birth certificate and my father's naturalisation certificate on Wednesday--so we will see if the German embassy does accept it. – Mr. King Feb 16 at 19:51
  • Suppose an alien minor with a US citizen parent submits an application for adjustment of status, which is granted while the applicant is still a minor. Does the applicant ever receive a green card? – phoog Oct 9 at 15:06
  • @phoog: I believe so – user102008 Oct 9 at 16:27
  • OP's experience seems to confirm this. It just seems so wrong. If USCIS knows about the US citizen parent then they also know that approval of the AOS results in the applicant becoming a citizen and being therefore ineligible for the green card. – phoog Oct 9 at 17:52
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Not an answer but a data point. My daughter is a German citizen and got US citizenship before she was 18 (through me an my wife becoming citizen). At hat point she got a US passport, no problem. We also had filed and were approved for the German "Beibehaltungserklaerung" which officially enables dual citizenship for Germans.

When her German passport expired she went to the German Consulate to have it renewed. In order to preserve the validity of the "Beibehaltungserklaerung". The Consulate required proof of US citizenship. They insisted on an N-600. Her US passport or the parent's N-600 were not acceptable. They are certainly fine for the US government but not for the German consulate. At the end we had to file (and pay) for an N-600 only because the German consulate would not accept anything else and that was the only way to get her German renewed.

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