In the realm of citizenship, the terms “naturalized” and “derived” often surface, each carrying its own significance and legal implications. To grasp the nuances of citizenship law in the United States, it’s crucial to understand what distinguishes a naturalized citizen from a derived one.

What is Citizenship?

Citizenship is the legal status granted to an individual by a nation-state. It confers both rights and responsibilities, including the right to vote, work, and reside within the country’s borders.

What is a Naturalized Citizen?

A naturalized citizen is an individual who was not born in the United States but has undergone the process of naturalization to attain citizenship. This process involves fulfilling specific requirements set forth by the government, such as residency, language proficiency, and passing a citizenship test.

Naturalized Citizen Meaning

The term “naturalized citizen” refers to someone who has acquired citizenship through the legal process of naturalization, regardless of their country of birth.

What is a Derived Citizen?

Derived citizenship, on the other hand, pertains to individuals who automatically acquire citizenship through the actions or status of their parents. This can occur through birth abroad to U.S. citizen parents or through adoption by U.S. citizen parents.

Derived Citizen Meaning

A derived citizen is someone who gains citizenship automatically based on the citizenship status of their parents, without having to go through the naturalization process themselves.

Naturalized vs. Derived Citizenship

While both naturalized and derived citizens enjoy the rights and privileges afforded to U.S. citizens, the paths to obtaining citizenship differ significantly.

Naturalized Citizenship Process

Naturalized citizenship requires an individual to meet eligibility criteria, apply for citizenship, undergo background checks, and take an oath of allegiance to the United States.

Derived Citizenship Process

Derived citizenship, on the other hand, is typically acquired at birth or through the legal adoption process, without the need for additional applications or tests.

What is Derived U.S. Citizenship?

Derived U.S. citizenship refers to the automatic acquisition of citizenship by individuals who are born abroad to U.S. citizen parents.

Derived U.S. Citizen Meaning

Derived U.S. citizens are individuals who become citizens by virtue of their parents’ citizenship status, without having to fulfill the requirements of naturalization.

Derived Citizenship vs. Naturalized Citizenship

The distinction between derived and naturalized citizenship lies primarily in the method through which citizenship is acquired.

Derived Citizenship Meaning

Derived citizenship encompasses the idea of citizenship by descent or through familial ties, rather than through individual application and naturalization.

Are You a Naturalized or Derived Citizen?

Determining whether one is a naturalized or derived citizen depends on the circumstances of their citizenship acquisition.

Derive Citizenship Meaning

Derived citizenship emphasizes the notion of inheriting citizenship status from one’s parents, either by birth or through legal adoption.


In summary, naturalized citizenship is obtained through an individual’s own efforts and adherence to legal requirements, while derived citizenship is acquired automatically through familial connections or birth circumstances. Understanding the distinction between these two forms of citizenship is essential for navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration and citizenship law.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Can a person be both a naturalized and derived citizen? No, an individual is typically either a naturalized citizen or a derived citizen, depending on the method through which they acquired citizenship.
  2. Do derived citizens have the same rights as naturalized citizens? Yes, both derived and naturalized citizens enjoy the same rights and privileges granted by U.S. citizenship.
  3. What happens if a child is born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one non-U.S. citizen parent? In such cases, the child may still acquire U.S. citizenship at birth under certain conditions, such as if the U.S. citizen parent has lived in the U.S. for a specified period of time.
  4. Is there a difference in the documentation provided to naturalized and derived citizens? While the process of obtaining citizenship documentation may vary, both naturalized and derived citizens receive documentation proving their citizenship status.
  5. Can derived citizenship be revoked? In some rare cases, derived citizenship may be subject to revocation if it is discovered that the citizenship was obtained fraudulently or through misrepresentation.