If a child is born outside of the United States, it does not mean that the child cannot be a United States citizen. If the child’s parents are both United States citizens and one of the parents has lived in the United States or its territories prior to the child’s birth, that child is a citizen. A parent is defined as the genetic mother or father or the gestational mother if that person is the legal parent.
In the event that only one parent is a United States citizen, the child could still be a citizen if certain criteria are met. Generally, the citizen parent must have spent five years in the country or outside of the country serving in the military or employed by the United States government. All five years must be prior to the child’s birth, and two of those years must have occurred after the citizen turned 14.
A child born outside of the United States may be a citizen even if the child’s parents are married. This happens if the legal mother is a United States citizen born after December 1952 who has spent at least one year in the country or outlying possession. It may also happen if the genetic father is a United States citizen, a genetic link can be proven and other conditions are met.
There are many rights and benefits to being a United States citizen. Even if an individual is born outside of the country, they may be citizens if their legal parent or parents are. It may be beneficial to contact an immigration and naturalization attorney to determine an individual’s status within the country. An attorney may be able to review an individual’s records to determine if he or she is already a citizen or if naturalization needs to be pursued.
Source: USCIS, “Citizenship Through Parents“, November 03, 2014