I am a non-American individual and think I have a right for American citizenship.

The father of my grandma (dead) was American (he was born there), but my grandma (alive) did not get citizenship for some reason.

So neither my mother nor I have got American citizenship. Is there any way so I can get American citizenship from the father of my grandma?

  • 2
    Your grandmother may have been a USA citizen, even if she never applied for a passport. To determine this, we would need to know if her parents were married, her mother's citizenship, how long they lived in the USA (if ever), etc. Even if she were, however, she would not have transmitted citizenship to the next generation (your parent) without living in the USA at some point. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 20:36
  • 1
    To add to what @AndrewLazarus mentioned, we would also need to know when your grandmother was born. The same information (date of birth, whether born in wedlock or out of wedlock, one or two US citizen parents, how long they were physically present in the US before the birth of the next generation, etc.) would also be needed for your parent (the grandmother's child).
    – user102008
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 2:01

2 Answers 2


There are two models for citizenship, by location of birth and by the nationality of the parent. The US chiefly follows the first model, which is why only your grandma's father is American, and your grandma is not. By the same logic, you are not.

Countries like Spain are far more lenient, and do allow you to request Spanish citizenship if you can show any of your direct ancestors are Spanish. That's possible because each country can make its own laws within reason. The international norm is that everybody should get at least a citizenship at birth; statelessness should not happen.

  • My grandma did not get the citizenship, but her brothers did. In fact their dad is American, so they got the citizenship from the parent.
    – BestBouli
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 12:53
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    @whytho: That's all pretty irrelevant to you - neither of your parents were American when you were born.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 12:56
  • Oh I got it.So you are saying if my dad somehow gets naturalized in the US today, I won't have the right to citizenship?
    – BestBouli
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 13:18
  • @whytho: Correct.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 13:42
  • Wow that is clear now. You saved me a visit to my lawyer. Thank you!
    – BestBouli
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 14:01

As described in this Wikipedia article a person born outside of the United States may become a US citizen if at least one of the persons parents is a US citizen, and various other conditions are complied with.

These conditions differ depending on whether the mother, the father, or both are US citizens, and whether the parents were married at the time of the birth of the child. Most of these conditions require that the citizen parent have been physically present in the US for a certain period prior to the birth, the period varying depending on the exact case.

In the specific case where the father is a US citizen, but the mother is not, and the parents were not married, the paternity must be formally acknowledged by the father, or legally adjudicated, before the child is 18, otherwise the child can not subsequently acquire US citizenship by descent.

These conditions are set by law, and the law has been changed at various times by Congress.

There is no case under current US law where a person can obtain US citizenship because one or more of his or her ancestors, but not a parent, was a US Citizen.

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