I have not married the mother of my children but she happens to be a US citizen. I am not a US citizen. We have only lived in Argentina. We had a son and daughter who are now 5 and 3 years old. Are my children US citizens?

They might be. US law treats an unmarried US citizen mother differently than an unmarried US citizen father.

An unmarried US citizen mother who has a child with a foreign national may transmit citizenship to a child born on or after December 24, 1952 if the mother had physical presence in the US for 12 continuous months prior to the child’s birth. Before then, the law had changed over the years.

An unmarried or unwed US citizen father who has a child with an unmarried or unwed foreign national mother has to satisfy more requirements than an unmarried US citizen mother.

For children born on or after November 14, 1986, under this scenario, the children might be citizens if the father was physically present in the US or one of its territorial possessions for at least 5 years prior to the child’s birth (2 of those 5 years of physical presence would have had to happen after the father turned 14 years old); AND,

  • a blood relationship is established between the father and the child
  • the father was a US citizen at the time of the child’s birth
  • the father (unless dead) agrees in writing to support the child until the child turns 18 years old
  • and while the child is under 18 years old
    • the child is legitimated, or
    • the father acknowledges paternity, or
    • paternity was established by a court of law

Since you are not a US citizen, your children would not receive US citizenship through you, but they would through their US citizen mother if she satisfied the requirement mentioned above.

If you have any questions regarding citizenship or immigration, please feel free to call me, immigration attorney Shawn Mesa at (813) 679-5780.

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a public service and not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on this information is taken at your own risk.

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