Under the laws of the United States, which have changed considerably over time, there are three pathways to U.S. citizenship, namely:
- by application for naturalization;
- by acquisition at the time of birth - either through birth in the territorial United States, or by birth abroad to U.S. citizen parents;
- by derivation, through the naturalization of parent(s) with whom you lived as a minor in the United States;
While every permanent residenttt who seeks to become a naturalized citizen must be questioned carefully to determine whether he or she may be a U.S. citizen already, most potential N-400 applicants know if there is some possibility that they are citizens already.