The Worst Mistakes In the Naturalization Process

All parents want to protect their children.  But all parents make mistakes.

So many mothers and fathers fail to take care of getting their children naturalized. This is the worst mistake in the naturalization process. And the real shame of it, almost always, is that the error is unintentional.

Why is forgetting to get your children naturalized such a huge error?

Say you’re a green card holder.  You’ve possessed lawful residence in the United States since early youth.  Your parents successfully completed the naturalization process when you were a child. However, they inadvertently neglected to take care of securing your citizenship back then.

Perhaps you may be eligible for derivative citizenship. This process may be conferred automatically on green card holders who meet certain conditions. There have been various rules on the derivative naturalization process through the generations. Depending on your age, different rules apply.

Derivative citizenship and the Child Citizenship Act of 2000

So what is derivative citizenship? It is U.S. citizenship given to children who:

  1. Have green cards and
  2. Whose parents become naturalized U.S. citizens, or
  3. In recent years, to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents, if certain conditions are met.

The most recent development occurred through The Child Citizenship Act of 2000. This law went into effect on February 27, 2001. Kids who met the requirements below on or after that date automatically became American citizens.

BUT Children who were 18 or older on February 27, 2001 do not derive.

You may be able to show that you became a United States Citizen if you:

  • Have a mother or father who was a citizen by birth or naturalization
  • Were under 18
  • Live in the custody of the American citizen parent AND
  • Have a green card

Another terrible issue is when youth face criminal charges before naturalization

The second worst mistake in the naturalization process occurs when these same children face arrests and criminal charges before they have been naturalized.

It’s at that time that parents often discover that arrests and criminal charges result in deportation and detention cases of those children who are no longer the babies brought here lawfully so many years before.

Millions of immigrants with green cards have faced deportation for trouble with the police when they could have avoided Immigration problems by going through the naturalization process at a younger age.

The Naturalization Process may be your Protection.

While it sounds like an easy road to just “become naturalized” derivative citizenship is actually very complicated. Talk to the best immigration lawyer you can find to avoid any further issues.

Once you are naturalized you should be done with any Immigration Service encounters. That said, USCIS did announce recently that they are doing reviews of cases regarding immigrants ordered deported who are suspected of using false identities to acquire green cards and citizenship through naturalization.

All the more reason to find A TOP IMMIGRATION LAWYER.


Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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