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Birthright Citizenship - Jus soli & Jus Sanguinis

Birthright Citizenship

Jus soli is a Latin term that means law of the soil.  Many countries follow the system of jus soli or more commonly known as, birthright citizenship. Under this concept, citizenship of a person is determined by the place where a person was born. Jus soli is the most common means a person acquires citizenship of a nation. Another system called jus sanguinis  is when a person acquires citizenship through their parents or ancestors. The U.S. follows the jus soli system to determine citizenship.   What this means is that whoever is born in the U.S. and is subject to its jurisdiction is automatically granted U.S. citizenship.

The Fourteenth Amendment, codified that judicial authorities recognize that the philosophy was integral at the conception of the country’s constitution.

Pursuant to 8 USCS § 1401, the following persons can acquire citizenship by jus soli:


  • A person born in the U.S., and subject to its jurisdiction.

  • A person born in the U.S. as a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribe.
  • A person of unknown parentage found in the U.S. while under the age of five year. The person can remain a U.S. citizen if it is not shown before s/he attains twenty five years that the person was not born in the U.S.

  • A person born in an outlying possession of the U.S. (i.e., including Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone, Panama, the Virgin Islands and Guam.) of parents, one of whom is a citizen of the U.S. who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person.

"Jus soli" is common in developed countries that desires to increase their own citizenry. Some countries that follow the  jus soli system include:

* Argentina
* Barbados
* Brazil
* Canada
* Colombia
* Jamaica
* Mexico
* Pakistan
* Peru
* Romania
* United States
* Uruguay"

Most European countries follow the principle of Jus sanguinis. In general, citizenship is conferred by birth to a parent who is already a citizen of that country, or by naturalization in that country.  This is contrary to Jus Soli because the mere fact that a person is born there does not, in and of itself doesn't confer citizenship.

If a country follows the "jus sanguinis" or right of blood system, you inherit a parent’s citizenship. So, if your father and mother were each from a different jus sanguinis nation and you were born in a jus soli jurisdiction, you would be able to claim citizenship in three countries.

There are, however, exceptions to a rule a country follows because of treaties with other countries such as children of foreign diplomats are recognized as being citizens of the country that sent their parents there.

Also, people born on a foreign flagship or airliner are entitled to claim citizenship in the country under whose flag the vessel was registered.

Articles related to this topic

  • Child Citizenship Act - How to Get a Certificate of Citizenship for Your Child
  • What is Dual Nationality or Dual Citizenship?
  • How to Replace your certificate of citizenship or naturalization - includes forms and instructions
  • Child Citizenship Act - How to Get a Certificate of Citizenship for Your Child
  • Child Citizenship Act of 2000 - Automatic Citizenship for Children of U.S. Citizens born abroad.
  • I Am a U.S. Citizen How Do I Get Proof of My U.S. Citizenship?
  • The New Citizenship Test
  • Try The Naturalization Self Test - The Best Way to Prepare for the CItizenship Test
  • Citizenship In Other Countries - Dual Citizenship
  • Obtaining U.S. Citizenship Through a Grandparent

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