California residents who were not born in the United States and who have one parent who became a U.S. citizen when they were a minor may wonder whether that conferred citizenship on them as well. If a child is a permanent resident, there are circumstances under which they might become citizens when a parent does. The rules are different depending on whether the person was 18 or older on Feb. 27, 2001 or was under 18 or not yet born on that date.

For the latter group, several conditions must be present. The child must be unmarried and must live in the United States. The parent who becomes a citizen must have physical and legal custody of the child.

One of several conditions must be true for the former group. One parent must be a citizen and the other must be deceased, or the parents must be unmarried and the mother must be the parent who becomes a citizen, or the parents must be separated or divorced and the one who has custody must be the naturalized citizen. A person who is a naturalized citizen may also want to get proof of that citizenship. A passport is the easiest way to do this although form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is another way to do so.

Immigration law is subject to changes and is also complex. For example, at present, lawmakers are struggling to deal with the situation of women and children fleeing violence in Central America. At any given time, certain immigration practices may be under scrutiny and in flux. People who came to the United States as a minor and are uncertain of their status as a citizen or permanent resident and their rights may want to have the advice of an attorney who has experience in this area of the law.