I have two children both born in the UK before 11th June 2017. I, their father, am a British citizen, their mother was a US citizen and we were not married.

Between the birth of the first child and the second, their mother was granted indefinite leave to remain.

At no point did their mother register their birth with any US authorities.

Accord to the website of the US State Dept (bottom section on Birth Abroad Out-of-Wedlock to a U.S. Citizen Mother), both of my children qualify to apply for US citizenship.


I am correct in my belief that they do not automatically have US citizenship?

Note: I am not asking for advice in seeking US citizenship for them, merely confirming their current status.

1 Answer 1


Your children may have automatically become US citizens at birth, depending on how long their mother lived in the US before they were born.

US law says that any child born abroad to an unmarried US citizen mother is automatically a US citizen, as long as their mother had lived in the US continuously for at least one year before the child was born.

There is a clear discussion of the legal requirements in Chapter 3 of the USICS Policy Manual: US Citizens at Birth . Your specific situation is covered by § C.2: Child of a US Citizen Mother (also at the bottom of the page!).

(The underlying statute, §1409 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, is here. Like most of the INA, §1409 is not reader friendly.)

  • 1
    Ah, thanks for pointing that out. Yes, that does appear to be applicable. I misread the text of the webpage, thinking it was living in the US within one year of the child's birth. Nov 26, 2019 at 11:09
  • @GeoffAtkins You are welcome. In this case, I think it's fair to say the text is confusing -- it gave me pause several times. (That web site is a model of clarity compared to the actual statute, which proves once again that lawyerly precision is the death of clarity.)
    – Just a guy
    Nov 26, 2019 at 11:19
  • I can verify. I know a person who grew up in New Zealand but his mother immigrated to New Zealand from the U.S. This person is a U.S. Citizen and despite his accent, will be eligible to run for President (in a few years time, he's not yet met the minimum age). In fact, techically, his mother's family were part of the Mayflower, so his familial claim to U.S. citizenship goes back further than mine, and I never lived anywhere but the U.S.
    – hszmv
    Nov 26, 2019 at 18:47

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