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In the United States, What is a Natural Born Citizen?

Children born to US citizens while abroad are classified as natural born citizens.
The 14th Amendments states that anyone born in the US is a citizen of the US.
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A natural born citizen or natural citizen is someone who is considered a United States citizen from birth. Unlike naturalized citizens, these people do not need to apply for any of the rights of citizenship. They are granted the right to vote at 18, along with all of the other rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship in the United States. In addition, they are permitted to run for the positions of president and vice president, while naturalized citizens are excluded from these roles in American government by law.

There are two different ways in which a natural born citizen can be created. By American law, all people born on American soil are considered citizens. In addition, people who are born overseas to American parents are also classified this way.

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People who are born on American soil are said to have the right of jus soli, and this right is protected in the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution, which specifically states that “all persons born in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.” Jus soli has become a topic of hot discussion in some areas of the United States, because this right is also extended to children born of foreign parents, whether or not they are in the country legally. In the case of children born to illegal immigrants, some people use the derogatory term “anchor baby” to describe a child who is born in the US, under the mistaken belief that illegal immigrants will not be deported if their children are considered American citizens.

For children born abroad, the principle that applies is jus sanguinis, or “rule of the blood,” and the rules can get a bit tricky. If a child is born to two parents who are both American citizens, the case is usually clear, and the parents need only apply for a United States passport on the child's behalf to ensure that his or her citizenship is formally recognized. If only one parent is an American citizen, however, jus sanguinis may or may not apply, and the case must be considered before the child is classified as a natural born citizen.

In situations where only one parent is a United States citizen, he or she must have lived in the United States for at least five years at some point before the child's birth as a full American citizen, and at least two of these five years must have occurred after the parent's 14th birthday. In the case of a child born to an American mother, the child is usually considered a citizen, whether or not the mother is married. If an American father is involved in a relationship with a foreign woman and the couple is not married, however, the father may need to fight for the child's right to citizenship.

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anon951865
Post 55

1)There are only two types of US citizen: naturalized and natural born. They are equal in every way except for eligibility for the presidency.

2) A naturalized citizen is one who depends on an act of law to acquire citizenship. They are either automatically naturalized at birth by statute

(see US Code: Nationality at Birth and Collective Naturalization - §1401. Nationals and citizens of United States at birth), or go through a naturalization "process" (see Steps to Naturalization - USCIS).

Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship by the operation of an act of law.

3) A natural born citizen is a person born with US citizenship, and only US citizenship. He/she doesn't have to acquire it by the operation of a law. When the mother and the father are both citizens (natural citizenship - through nature - by descent), and the child is born on US soil (place of nativity - birthplace - born) the child is a US citizen without any doubt, and without having any ties to a foreign government either by nature or by place of birth.

People born to citizen parents, but born out of the US, have ties to their place of birth and are considered "citizens" by law.

People born to non-citizen parents, but born in the US have ties to to their parents' foreign citizenship and are also considered "citizens" by Law. Only those born to citizen parents and inside the US are considered "natural born citizens".

A simple way to figure out who is naturalized is to look at the statutes in the US code linked above. If that person depends on one of those statutes to be a citizen, then they are not natural born.

anon345334
Post 54

In order for Sen. Cruz to believe himself to be an Art. II, §1, cl. 4 natural born citizen, he must also believe the offspring of illegal aliens born in this country are also natural born citizens.

The fact that a definition of a natural born citizen is missing from the US Constitution wasn't an oversight, or a simple lapse in judgement. The founders, framers and ratifiers,of the US Constitution, as well as the colonial in the street, knew perfectly well what a natural born subject was before the American revolution.

After the War of Independence, the republican constitutional theory conceived of the individual as a Citizen (with a capital "C") and assigned sovereignty to the people (forming the basis of American exceptionalism even today). To find the proper definition of the enigmatic phrase "natural born citizen" in Art. II, §1, cl. 4., one must look at it through the eyes, not of a subject, but as a sovereign.

As sovereigns, their offspring would inherit their sovereignty from their fathers (partus sequitur patrem). As sovereigns, their offspring would also be natural born subjects wherever their birth occurred, as natural law dictates.

This definition of an Art. II, §1, cl. 4 natural born Citizen was reinforced by the definition provided in the first Naturalization Act of 1790 for Americans born overseas as a person born of two US citizen parents. Being the first after the US Constitution was ratified only a few short months earlier, most scholars see this definition as the closest definition of a natural born Citizen the delegates to the 1787 constitutional convention had in mind when they unanimously, and without discussion, adopted the phrase into the US Constitution.

I hope, Sen Cruz, at some point in time, can see the error of his ways and step up to the plate and lead the charge in restoring our most cherished American birthright from the gutter it has been placed by our courts to where even the offspring of illegal aliens born in this country can run for the US presidency. If he does such a thing, I am sure he will find himself sitting on the bench of the US Supreme Court, perhaps even as its chief justice. He would most certainly have my vote.

anon333678
Post 51

To be a natural born citizen, you must be native born, which means both parents must be citizens. Natural born citizen is the only citizenship that comes naturally and not by law. Having American parents makes you a natural American. Even if you were born while they traveled to other countries, their children are citizens naturally, by their birth of citizens.

If citizens come to America and have a child, the child is a simple citizen. They are not nor can ever be qualified as a natural born citizen. They did not come by their citizenship naturally. They gained it by a enacted law, just as naturalized citizens gain citizenship through law. They are citizens, but not natural born citizens.

Only the native born of two citizen parents are naturally born citizens without declaration of law. You come by it naturally. It cannot ever be questioned. And it is the only type citizen you can be and be constitutionally eligible for the office of President. All others are illegal.

anon327266
Post 50

My dad is a citizen and lives in Hawaii. I lived with him there for almost six years until he sent me back here in the Philippines. I've already live here for almost 16 years, so can anybody help me find out if I'm a citizen there and if I still can go back to Hawaii?

hamhamhamsta
Post 49

I am a naturalized US citizen and would like to help my real parents to apply for green card but there is a dilemma. The parent name that I have was my dad's cousin. In Indonesia, only Indonesian citizens can help apply their children to get citizenship, and my parents weren't; that's why they had to go down this road. But for all intents and purposes, I was raised my my real parents and all, except they weren't on paper.

How do I change my papers to show that my real parents are my real ones? Do I have to go to court and get the court to legally recognized my real parents as my real ones? Through DNA testing and so on or is there any easier way? Or is there any way at all? Help!

anon292323
Post 47

I just love all of these comments from people claiming that they know the truth. I have been researching this subject today and courts and legal experts going all the way back to 1790 have stated that "natural born" citizens simply refers to someone who is either born on U.S. soil regardless of parentage OR who is born outside U.S. borders but to at least one parent who is a natural or naturalized U.S.citizen.

The first seven U.S. presidents were born as British subjects, so the framers of the constitution could not have been strictly intending that only those born on U.S. soil could be eligible to hold office as president or vice president.

anon277295
Post 46

To be a natural born citizen, a person must be born within one of the states. Being born in a federal territory (Barry Goldwater), much less an unincorporated federal possession (John McCain), doesn't count. The reason for this is that, in the original constitution, a "citizen of the United States" means a citizen of one of the states. There was generally no such thing as a citizen of the federal government until the fourteenth amendment in 1868. I can provide full citations if anyone is interested.

As for children born abroad, they may be statutory citizens, but the Supreme Court itself, in the famous Wong Kim Ark case, noted that statutes extending citizenship to the children of citizens born abroad are passed under the congressional naturalisation power. Such persons are naturalised, by statute, at birth.

Neither of these are open questions. The third question is open, which is whether if a person is a natural born citizen if born in a state to a non-citizen parent? Some authorities say "yes" while others say "no." While I would prefer the answer to be "no," I'm afraid that the answer is in fact "yes" and I greatly fear that the Supreme Court would rule "yes" because Obama claims to have been born in a state to an alien father and they will just not want to overturn the results of an election and remove an elected president.

Of course, if Obama was born abroad, then the answer is easy. His parents could be George and Martha Washington and he would still be no better than a naturalised citizen. However, even under statutory law of 1961, if he was born abroad and if (as I believe) his parents were Barack Obama and Ann Dunham, then he would not even have been a statutory citizen at birth because his mother would have been too young to confer statutory citizenship upon him. But that's another story.

anon254844
Post 45

My husband is a British citizen, and I am American. Our daughter was born in Britain. Do I have to have my husband's permission to take her to America?

anon251351
Post 43

If my baby is born in the USA, he becomes a US citizen. But I, his mother (french), when can I become an American resident?

anon216961
Post 41

This article is so full of holes it's not worth the time it takes to read it. First off, children born on foreign soil, with the exception of those born to military service members on active duty, on the soil of a military installation and those born on the soil of a U.S. embassy are never considered natural born citizens.

Second, being born on U.S. soil merely makes someone a citizen, it does not make them a natural born citizen. Only a child born on U.S. soil to two parents who are both citizens of the U.S. is a natural born citizen. The reason the founders of our country designed it this way was to prevent exactly what we have happening now, someone becoming president whose allegiance to a foreign country and people as greater than it is to the U.S.

What we have in the White House right now is a criminal usurper who illegally took the office of presidency over by a non-military, political coup d'état.

anon171585
Post 37

All of you who say that it doesn't matter if you were born outside of the united states as long as your parents were born in the united states, that is not true. in order to be the president, the constitution states you have to have been born on u.s soil, and both of your parents have to be legal citizens at the time of your birth. this is absolutely 100 percent truth.

i know someone whose parents are both american born and raised. when his mother was pregnant with him her husband was stationed in korea in the military and while she was there with him she went into labor off base. and gave birth to him in a korean hospital, and since he was born in korea they had to legally adopt their own blood son.

the laws strictly forbid anyone who isn't born on u.s. soil from holding the position of president and even goes further to demand that both parents have citizenship.

anon170797
Post 36

I think the government should reinstate funding for civics and american government classes in high school. You people are just wrong who question the legitimacy of the President. His mother was an american citizen, so therefore, he is an american citizen. He was born on american soil, so therefore he is an american natural citizen. His father is an african born citizen, but that does not disqualify the president, because he was born in the US and his mother was an american citizen, therefore he is a natural born citizen. Therefore the birthers are either crazy, ignorant or just plain racist. Got it?

anon170162
Post 35

My son was born in 1977 on US soil to his American born father and myself - a British citizen at the time of his birth. His father was stationed overseas in the US selective services for one year, then 16 months on US soil prior to our son's birth. Is my son eligible to become a US president based on this criteria?

anon153114
Post 33

Taken to it's logical conclusion, the principle of Jus Sanguinis without Jus Soli means that anyone who cannot trace all their ancestors back to before the adopting of the constitution are not natural born citizens.

I guess that makes me president, and as my first act I am going to propose that all birthers are deported to the countries of their ancestral origin (as if they would take them, since they likely have rules about accepting the feeble minded).

Robert Laity
Post 32

For whatever naturalization/immigrations laws and rules that apply to any person other than the president or the vice-president of the United States, those two individuals (since a VP must be equally qualified should he have to take office as POTUS) must meet both:

1.Jus Sanguinis-Both parents must have been citizens at the time of a president's birth.

and

2.Jus Soli-The president must have been born in

the United States and no other place.

anonoct1985
Post 31

anon108447: if your child has citizenship and their children are born in the u.s. then yes, but if a natural born citizen has a child outside of the united states that child is legally not an american citizen.

anonoct1985
Post 30

it's actually a lie when people say that if your parent is a natural born citizen that that makes you a citizen by birth right.

My sister in law's brother was in the army stationed in korea when he and his wife had their son, jimmy. And, since he wasn't born on base he was not considered an american citizen and in order for his parents to obtain citizenship, as well as a passport for him, they had to legally adopt him even though he was their blood son.

amypollick
Post 29

@anon113660: The Constitution does *not* include the Declaration of Independence. They are two separate documents and were written about 11 years or so apart. The Declaration was signed in 1776, as we know. The U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787. They are separate entities.

anon113660
Post 28

to anon63428: Maybe you should check your facts, the United States Constitution consists of the Declaration of Independence, Seven Articles, and currently 27 Amendments.

anon108447
Post 27

I am an american citizen. my children were born in italy and are american citizens. by me, their mother. now that my son is having a baby, can this baby be an american citizen.

anon83613
Post 25

My fathers family is all american but my mom is swedish and i was born in sweden but i should still be able to run for president.

Endang
Post 24

I am Indonesian citizen, and my wife too. In 1987 my wife gave birth to my son in the State of Indiana, USA. Question: what, if available, are my son's rights under US law? Thank you.

anon82339
Post 23

Since this appears to be the place to throw around unfounded accusations, let's consider the case of John McCain.

1) McCain wasn't born in the Panama Canal Zone on U.S. territory as often claimed. The hospital in the canal zone wasn't constructed until five years after his birth. He was born in the Republic of Panama in a civilian hospital outside of the canal zone.

2) There is a statute that confers citizenship on children born to US citizens in the canal zone and the Republic of Panama. That statute was passed in 1937--the year after McCain's birth.

3) Recognizing that he was not a natural born citizen, McCain urged the Senate to pass a resolution making him one. Therefore, there must be an additional route to natural born citizenship. Congress can make you a natural born citizen if it wishes.

anon82334
Post 22

Perhaps this person who is claiming that both parents must be US citizens at the time of birth to be considered a "natural born citizen" can provide a link to some official government document stating this.

anon82309
Post 21

it is my understanding that your son is or could be a US citizen, but he would not qualify to be President, as his father is Egyptian. Both parents must be US citizens at the time of birth.

anon82164
Post 20

If many of you would read your United States Constitution you would know the answer to your questions. A natural born citizen does not have to have two American parents; look up Jus Sanguinis and Jus Soli.

anon78290
Post 19

Article 2 was a security measure to prevent foreign influence in the office of the President. This is the reason that both parents are required to be U.S. citizens at birth to be considered natural born.

anon67631
Post 13

The above article incorrectly interchanges the terms "natural born" and "natural" citizen.

The Constitution referred to five types of citizens.

1. "Citizen" of the USA meaning a person who was born to at least one USA citizen parent (citizenship given by law via federal statute) or a person who was born in the USA or a person who was a "naturalized citizen" (citizenship given by law via federal statute).

2. "Citizen of the United States at the time of Adoption of this Constitution" a/k/a "the Grandfather Clause" a/k/a "Original Citizen" (stated in Article II of the Constitution), referring to a citizen of the US at the time of the adoption of the Constitution.

3. "Born Citizen" of the USA (referenced, established, and rights clarified in the 14th Amendment) refers to a citizen who was born in the USA.

4. "Naturalized Citizen" of the USA (referenced and rights clarified in the 14th Amendment) refers to a citizen who was not born in the USA and whose citizenship rights were obtained by processes governed by federal statutes, including the person swearing an Oath of Allegiance to the USA and renouncing any and all foreign allegiances such as to any prince or potentate

5. "Natural Born Citizen" of the USA (referenced only in Article II as one of the specific requirements to serve as President and Commander in Chief in the USA) refers to a citizen born to two parents who are both US citizens of any type at the time of the child's birth, which must be in the USA.

This type of citizen of a nation is a citizen via "natural law" and cannot be given by any man made law. The acts of nature itself gave this person natural born citizenship of the nation.

This is typically the largest group in any nation which has been in existence for a couple of generations or more. It is also the group which innately has the strongest allegiance to the nation and the least potential foreign familial or other foreign influences on them.

Native born can refer to any citizen born within the physical boundaries of the USA. Natural born must be not only native born or born with the physical boundaries of the USA, but must also be the child of two parents who were both citizens of the USA at the time of his birth. The terms should not be confused or interchanged. The founders were careful to use the term only for the presidential qualification.

Their choice of wording was not an accident. Be careful not to lose the true meaning of the term.

anon65400
Post 11

I'm an american and soon to be a father and the child's mother is british. we are going to get married but the baby is due before we are married. will my child be american and able to stay in the usa?

anon63428
Post 9

To anon49779: Where did you find Article 14 Sec 1 of the U.S. Constitution? Our Constitution only has 7 Articles! Check your facts!

anon61833
Post 8

There is only one fact that is important when discussing this issue ... that the SCOTUS has never, I repeat never, defined or clarified what the framers of our Constitution meant by "natural born citizen" as presented in Art. II, Sect. 1, Para 5 pertaining to the POTUS and VPOTUS. WiseGEEK would have you believe that it is a simple matter of citizenship. It is not. Many people believe, myself included, that the key issue is parentage. You cannot be considered a "natural born citizen" unless both of your parents were U.S. citizens at the time of your birth.

You can, however, be a citizen as regulated by the various laws that Congress regulates. Congress cannot interpret or speak for the Constitution, only SCOTUS can define these meanings. The key issue is allegiance. A citizen's allegiance is considered to be compromised if they have a parent who is legally tied to another country that might possibly have legal jurisdiction or influence over the child. In this case, BHO's father was a Kenyan/British subject at the time of his birth.

Unless BHO can prove that he renounced this birthright, he is still a dual citizen and therefore ineligible for the office of POTUS. Therein lies the real controversy. It's not about citizenship at all, though many would have you believe otherwise, including this website.

anon53447
Post 6

Give it up, this man is our president and let us not get on corruption. It was corruption that got us in this mess. You cannot steal an election and think there will not be any consequences for there actions.

anon52013
Post 5

the article above states that even a child born outside the usa can be considered a natural born citizen. read it. i promise it is there, and further it states that if the mother only is a citizen, then (provided certain criteria are met) her child is also a natural born citizen. people should stop listening to the media and accepting it as gospel. learn to research the facts yourself!

anon51408
Post 4

It's called corruption.

anon49779
Post 2

No your son is only a U.S. citizen.

All people born on American soil are not natural born citizens. The U.S. Constitution Article 14, Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States are only citizens, not natural born citizens. Both parents must be U.S. citizens for their child to be a natural born citizen.

anon22713
Post 1

My son was born in Egypt. His father is Egyptian. I am american and had lived in the states my entire life prior to coming to live in egypt 1 year prior to my son's birth. He was issued the consular Report of Birth Abroad immediately at birth. I thus consider him to be a natural born US citizen and thus he should be eligible to run for president ( god forbid) if he lived in the usa for 14 years and if he renounced his egyptian citizenship. At the time of his birth and up until this period of time, I was and am employed as a local hire employee of the US embassy in cairo and paid us taxes. I am not in the military nor diplomatic core however. Is this assumption correct?

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