What Happens to a Child Born in Arizona to Foreign Parents?

The subject of “birthright citizenship” is a hot topic with passionate parties on both sides of the aisle.

On the one hand, the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution extends citizenship to “all persons born in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” On the other hand, some people argue that it’s unfair to grant citizenship to a child born to foreign parents who are temporarily or illegally in the United States.

Fortunately, the law currently backs birthright citizenship. As such, a child born in Arizona (or any state, for that matter) to foreign parents is a US citizen.

Does The Child Need A Certificate Of Citizenship?

No. The child’s Arizona Birth Certificate serves as proof of their US citizenship, so they do not need to file an application for a Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Naturalization.

Similarly, a child born in Arizona to foreign parents does not need to apply for naturalization. US citizenship is the child’s by birthright, so the naturalization process and requirements are irrelevant.

Does The Child Need An Alien Registration Number?

Alien Registration Numbers (aka an Alien Number or A-Number) is a unique eight- or nine-digit number assigned to non-US citizens when their Alien File is created. Because the child is a US citizen, not a visa-holding immigrant, he or she does not need an Alien Registration Number. An Arizona Birth Certificate is the only form of identification the child needs to prove his or her legal status in the United States.

Similarly, a child born in Arizona to foreign parents does not need an Alien Registration Card, more commonly referred to as a green card. Green cards are issued to lawful permanent residents, not US citizens.

Does It Matter If The Father Is Not Listed On The Arizona Birth Certificate?

Thanks to the 14th Amendment’s sweeping proclamation concerning birthright citizenship, it does not matter if the child’s father is listed on the birth certificate. The child would still be considered a US citizen if the mother is the only parent listed on the birth certificate.

In the same breath, it’s worth noting that Arizona law does not grant paternity just because a man’s name is listed on a child’s birth certificate. Paternity is assumed when the parents are married, but when the parents are unmarried the father must establish paternity through the Arizona Superior Court, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, or the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Acquiring US Citizenship By Birth Abroad

Children born in Arizona to foreign parents aren’t the only ones to automatically receive citizenship. When a US citizen has a child while living or traveling abroad, the child acquires US citizenship from their American parent. 

Note that only one parent needs to be a US citizen, so it’s perfectly acceptable if the other parent is a foreign national.

In order to legitimize the child’s US citizenship, the parents must contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States (CRBA). When consular officials determine the child indeed acquired US citizenship at birth, they’ll approve the application and issue a CRBA (Form FS-240) in the child’s name.

Many parents choose to apply for a US passport at the same time to further legitimize the child’s US citizenship. Doing so is certainly important for traveling with the child, but it’s necessary from a citizenship standpoint. Like an Arizona Birth Certificate, a CRBA is sufficient proof of US citizenship by itself.

Derived Citizenship Through A Parent’s Naturalization

Even if a child is born abroad to foreign national parents (i.e. they don’t qualify for birthright citizenship or acquired citizenship), the child can obtain citizenship at a later date through their parent’s naturalization. The child must have a green card to qualify, but then again the parent should already have a green card themselves, which would qualify the child for a green card, too.

For example, let’s say a child is born in Mexico shortly before immigrating to the United States with their parents. The parents successfully apply for green cards, and after the appropriate residency period they successfully apply for naturalization. When the parents become naturalized citizens of the United States, the child automatically becomes a naturalized citizen with their parents.

Related Questions

What Is The Difference Between A US National And A US Citizen?

All US citizens are US nationals, because they owe allegiance to the United States. However, it’s possible to be a US national without being a US citizen. People born in or having ties to outlying possessions of the United States such as American Samoa and Swains Island are US nationals but not US citizens. Children born abroad with at least US national parents are also US nationals.

Under federal law, US nationals are permitted to work and reside anywhere in the United States without restrictions. US nationals can apply for a US passport, and they can apply for naturalized citizenship.

What is a Statement of Citizenship?

Title IV of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 dictates that only US citizens, US non-citizen nationals, non-exempt qualified aliens, non-immigrants, and some aliens paroled into the United States are eligible to receive state and local public benefits. In Arizona, this applies to professional licenses and commercial licenses issued by a state agency. As such, Arizona residents applying for a license must submit a Statement of Citizenship along with evidence of citizenship or immigration status to prove their lawful presence in the United States (ARS 1-501).

What is Substantive Citizenship?

Substantive citizenship refers to an individual’s ability to claim and exercise the rights they possess as a US citizen. This term is often used in conjunction with “formal citizenship,” which refers to an individual’s legal citizenship status.

For example, if you are born in the United States to foreign parents, formal US citizenship is yours by birthright. However, it’s up to you to take advantage of your substantive citizenship by voting for laws and elected officials.

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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