Securing American citizenship is a dream for many individuals around the world. For those with an American parent, the process of obtaining American citizenship may be easier and more affordable than they think. This is because those of American descent are permitted to apply for American citizenship and passport through a simplified process called the American citizenship by ancestry ("CBA").

Compared with other immigrate options, the legal costs for American CBA tend to be significantly lower, as qualifying applicants do not need to purchase a property, make a business investment, or live in the United States ("U.S.") to secure the American citizenship. So long as they have a qualifying American parent, they may apply for American CBA and passport even if they have no residential, employment, or cultural ties to the United States.

Benefits of American CBA

There are many benefits to obtaining American CBA. The most important advantage is that American CBA provides an individual with the same rights and privileges as any other American citizen. This includes the right to live, work, or study in the United States, as well as access to education and healthcare benefits.

Additionally, upon becoming an American citizen, one may vote and participate in the American political process. Moreover, he/she may obtain one of the most powerful passports in the world - the American passport. The American passport is ranked the fourth most powerful passport in the world in 2023 and holders of American passports are granted visa free/ visa-on-arrival access to 173 destinations around the globe. In cases of emergencies, American passport holders may also seek consular assistance and protection from any American embassy.

American CBA Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for American citizenship by descent, one must meet certain criteria. First, the applicant must have a parent who was an American citizen at the time of his birth. Additionally, the applicant must provide documentary evidence of his relationship to the American citizen. Finally, the American parent of concern may be required to show evidence that he/she has resided in the United States for a certain period of time prior to the applicant's birth.

The specific residential requirement imposed on the American parent varies depending on various factors, such as the date of birth of the applicant, whether the applicant was born in wedlock, and whether the American parent is the applicant's father or mother. For example, if the applicant was born out of wedlock to an American mother on or after 24 December 1952, the mother must have resided in the U.S. or its possession continuously for 12 months prior to the applicant's birth. Alternatively, if the applicant is born in wedlock to an American parent between 13 January 1941 and 24 December 1952, the American parent must have been physically present in the U.S. or its possession 10 years prior to the applicant's child, of which at least five years should be completed after the American parent reached the age of 16.

Due to the numerous requirements and exceptions at play, it is important to carefully review all variables involved in an applicant's lineage to determine one's eligibility for American CBA. This is why we, Harvey Law Group, adopts a case-by-case approach in determining each client's eligibility for American CBA and carefully identifies the potential challenges one may face prior to assisting clients in the application process.

American CBA Application Process

The process to claiming American citizenship and passport through your bloodline typically starts with gathering of the necessary documentation to establish your link with the American parent. If you do not have sufficient documentation proving your connection with your American parent or your parent's residential history in the United States, it may be necessary to conduct a search for the relevant records at the U.S. authority prior to preparing your citizenship application. Once all required documentation is available, the citizenship application must be carefully reviewed and prepared to ensure that it meets the submission standards required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On average, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services takes about a year to process American CBA applications, but the processing time could vary greatly depending on the complexity of your case, the overall presentation of your file and the capacity of the USCIS office handling your case. A longer processing time is possible if the application submitted is incomplete or the documentation provided is improperly translated. If all requirements are met, a document proving that you are an American citizen would be granted and you may then apply for the American passport and enjoy all rights and freedoms typically conferred on U.S. citizens.

In conclusion, obtaining American CBA can be a relatively straightforward process for those who are eligible. It provides individuals with all the rights and privileges of any other U.S. citizens, including the ability to live, work, or study in the United States, access to U.S. education and healthcare benefits, and participation in the U.S. political process. It is important to note that the application process can be complex and time-consuming if the application is not properly prepared, so it is recommended that applicants seek the assistance of an experienced immigration law firm to guide them through the process.

If you have an American ancestor and would like to learn more about the American CBA program, or another CBA program, please do not hesitate to contact us at Our lawyers at Harvey Law Group would be delighted to conduct a free preliminary assessment and consider if you have a qualifying blood link to meet the eligibility criteria of the American CBA program.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.