Jus soli & Jus sanguinis, the Latin terms for “of the soil” and “right of blood” are the two primary methods of deriving citizenship. Of the soil meaning, if you are born in a particular country, you derive the country’s citizenship upon birth. Right of blood on the other hand refers to inheriting the citizenship of one’s ancestry, regardless of the newborns place of birth. Most countries have incorporated one of these two concepts into their laws, or some combination of the two.
Jus soli (right of soil) is used primarily in North America, Latin America, and many other developing countries to increase population and citizenry. This includes the United States of America, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, and Uruguay.
Jus sanguinis (right of blood) is popular in predominantly European countries. Some countries that rely on this system include Italy, Israel, India, France, Australia, Hungary, UK, Argentina, and Turkey.
In addition to birth-right citizenship, the United States lays out many other exceptions. According to 8 USCS § 1401, “the following shall be nationals and citizens of the United States at birth:”
(a) a person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction;
(b) a person born in the United States to a member of an Indian, Eskimo, Aleutian, or other aboriginal tribes:
(c) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents both of whom are citizens of the United States and one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions, prior to the birth of such person;
(d) a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is national, but not a citizen of the United States;
(e) a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States 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;
(f) a person of unknown parentage found in the United States while under the age of five years, until shown, prior to his attaining the age of twenty-one years, not to have been born in the United States;
(g) a person born outside the geographical limits of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is an alien, and the other a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, was physically present in the United States or its outlying possessions for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, at least two of which were after attaining the age of fourteen years: Provided, That any periods of honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or periods of employment with the United States Government or with an international organization as that term is defined in section 288 of title 22 by such citizen parent, or any periods during which such citizen parent is physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter and a member of the household of a person (A) honorably serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, or (B) employed by the United States Government or an international organization as defined in section 288 of title 22, may be included in order to satisfy the physical-presence requirement of this paragraph. This proviso shall be applicable to persons born on or after December 24, 1952, to the same extent as if it had become effective in its present form on that date; and
(h) a person born before noon (Eastern Standard Time) May 24, 1934, outside the limits and jurisdiction of the United States of an alien father and a mother who is a citizen of the United States who, prior to the birth of such person, had resided in the United States.
What happens if the child is born on an airline in midflight or a vessel crossing the ocean? What if you are the child of diplomats born while the parent(s) are serving in a foreign country? There are specific laws and treaties that cover such unique circumstances.
**THIS IS NOT INTENDED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT. YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY TO DETERMINE HOW THIS GENERAL INFORMATION IMPACTS YOUR SPECIFIC CASE.