The citizenship law of the United States decides which people are or can become U.S. citizens. This citizenship law can be explained under two heads, for birth within the United States and for birth abroad.
According to Section 1 of the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution, persons born or naturalized in the U.S. and come under U.S. jurisdiction are U.S. citizens.
For this, any of the following conditions should be fulfilled:
Although not stated clearly, generally, children born to illegal immigrants are also considered U.S. citizens.
A child who is born abroad, becomes a U.S. citizen under certain conditions.
When both parents are U.S. citizens at time of birth of the child:
When only one parent is a U.S. citizen at the time of birth of the child:
The citizenship law also grants U.S. citizenship to adopted children of U.S. citizens.
A person can acquire U.S. citizenship through a process called naturalization. To be eligible, he should be above 18 years of age and must have been a legal permanent resident of the United States for at least five years before applying for citizenship. This is reduced to three years under certain conditions. To become citizens, the applicants should answer a citizenship test. Ten questions are asked out of which the applicants should get at least six right. There is also an interview conducted in person. Additionally, the applicants would have to meet certain other requirements.