TN 50 (02-24)

GN 00303.100 United States (U.S.) Citizenship

A. Policy for U.S. citizenship

A claimant may become a U.S. citizen by:

  • birth or

  • naturalization.

1. U.S. citizenship by birth

U.S. citizens by birth are claimants who were born:

  • in the U.S. and who at the time of birth were subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

  • outside the U.S. to a U.S. citizen parent or parents who meet certain residence requirements.

2. U.S. citizenship by naturalization

U.S. citizens by naturalization are claimants who acquire U.S. citizenship after birth through:

  • individual naturalization,

  • collective naturalization, or

  • derivation from a naturalized parent.

For more information on U.S. citizenship by naturalization, see GN 00303.120A.9.

B. Definitions for different U.S. citizenship status

1. Collective naturalization

Naturalization as a U.S. citizen acquired generally by an act of Congress or Presidential Proclamation (for example, Northern Mariana Islands citizens became U.S. citizens by Presidential Proclamation on November 04, 1986 and by P.L. 94-241) without individual petition.

2. Derived naturalization

A child acquires naturalization as a U.S. citizen under the age of 18 when either both parents, a divorced parent with custody, or a surviving parent receives naturalization citizenship.

3. Dual citizenship

Dual nationality is simultaneously being a citizen of two countries. Both countries (i.e., U.S. and a foreign country or two foreign countries) recognize the person as a citizen. Law confers dual citizenship, not by renunciation or choice. The person is required to obey the laws of both countries. Either country has the right to enforce its laws, particularly if the person later travels there. Most U.S. citizens, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the U.S. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use that country’s passport to enter and leave that country. Most countries permit a person to renounce or otherwise lose citizenship.

You can obtain information on losing foreign citizenship from the foreign country's embassy and consulates in the U.S. Americans can renounce U.S. citizenship in the proper form at U.S. embassies and consulates abroad.

The Department of State is responsible for determining the citizenship status of a person located outside the U.S. or in connection with the application for a U.S. passport while in the U.S. The following information explains dual nationality and U.S. citizenship, including circumstances where U.S. citizenship may be lost.

For dual citizenship situations, see RS 02640.001.


A claimant born in the Federal Republic of Germany of U.S. citizen parents is a citizen of both West Germany and the U.S.


After residing in Israel for 3 years, Israel government automatically grants a U.S. citizen Israeli citizenship without applying for such under the “Law of Return” if they are Jewish and do not decline Israeli citizenship.

4. Individual naturalization

A U.S. citizen acquires Naturalization by petitioning the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for citizenship.

5. Subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.

Individuals under the purview of the Fourteenth Amendment (which states that all individuals born in the U.S. and to whom U.S. laws apply, are U.S. citizens). Acquisition of U.S. citizenship is not affected by the fact that the alien parents are only temporarily in the U.S. at the time of the child's birth. Under international law, children born in the U.S. to foreign sovereigns or foreign diplomatic officers listed on the State Department Diplomatic List are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S.

6. U.S.

When used in a geographical sense, means the 50 states, District of Columbia (D.C.), Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands., American Samoa, Swain's Island, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

REMINDER: Individuals born in the former Western Samoa, which became independent in 1962 and now known as the Independent Republic of Samoa, are neither U.S. citizens nor U.S. nationals.

NOTE: On May 18, 1977, the Harcon tract ceased to be part of the U.S. The Harcon Tract (a small tract of land that was north of the Rio Grande but is now south of the channel since it was diverted) was considered U.S. territory until May 18, 1977. Under a treaty with Mexico, the U.S. transferred that land to Mexico on May 18, 1977.

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GN 00303.100 - United States (U.S.) Citizenship - 02/23/2024
Batch run: 02/23/2024