Q. I was born in Australia to a U.S. citizen father in 1997. He was married to my mother. My father was born in the United States in 1968 and lived there until around 1991. He never registered my birth with the U.S. consulate. Am I a U.S. citizen? How can I get proof?
E. Sidney, Australia
A. You are a U.S. citizen. You can apply for a U.S. passport at a U.S. consulate. Besides presenting your and your father’s birth certificates, you will need to prove that your father spent at least one year in the United States. You’ll find information about documents that will help you prove your father’s presence in the United States at the consulates website.
The rules for whether a child “acquires” U.S. citizenship at birth abroad depend on the law in place at the time of the child’s birth and the parents’ legal status in the United States at the time of the child’s birth. For children born to a U.S. citizen parent and an “alien” parent on or after Nov. 14, 1986, the U.S. citizen must have been physically present in the United States or a possession for at least five years, at least two of which were after age 14. Learn more about how a child gets U.S. citizenship at the Immigration Legal Resource Center website.
Q. My wife has had her green card for 12 years. She can speak and understand English, but she never learned to write. Can she become a U.S. citizen?
Kumar Bisram, Queens
A. Your wife can naturalize once she meets the qualifications that exempt older, long-term residents from reading, writing and speaking English. When she meets those qualifications, a person who can’t write (or read) English is exempt from the English language requirement
The law provides three exemptions from the English language requirement for naturalization. The exemptions are for applicants age 50 or over who have been permanent residents for at least 20 years, those at least age 55 with at least 15 years’ permanent residence and for those who have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from learning English.