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A natural born citizen or natural citizen is someone who is considered a United States citizen from birth. Unlike naturalized citizens, these people do not need to apply for any of the rights of citizenship. They are granted the right to vote at 18, along with all of the other rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship in the United States. In addition, they are permitted to run for the positions of president and vice president, while naturalized citizens are excluded from these roles in American government by law.
There are two different ways in which a natural born citizen can be created. By American law, all people born on American soil are considered citizens. In addition, people who are born overseas to American parents are also classified this way.
People who are born on American soil are said to have the right of jus soli, and this right is protected in the 14th Amendment to the United States constitution, which specifically states that “all persons born in the United States ... are citizens of the United States.” Jus soli has become a topic of hot discussion in some areas of the United States, because this right is also extended to children born of foreign parents, whether or not they are in the country legally. In the case of children born to illegal immigrants, some people use the derogatory term “anchor baby” to describe a child who is born in the US, under the mistaken belief that illegal immigrants will not be deported if their children are considered American citizens.
For children born abroad, the principle that applies is jus sanguinis, or “rule of the blood,” and the rules can get a bit tricky. If a child is born to two parents who are both American citizens, the case is usually clear, and the parents need only apply for a United States passport on the child's behalf to ensure that his or her citizenship is formally recognized. If only one parent is an American citizen, however, jus sanguinis may or may not apply, and the case must be considered before the child is classified as a natural born citizen.
In situations where only one parent is a United States citizen, he or she must have lived in the United States for at least five years at some point before the child's birth as a full American citizen, and at least two of these five years must have occurred after the parent's 14th birthday. In the case of a child born to an American mother, the child is usually considered a citizen, whether or not the mother is married. If an American father is involved in a relationship with a foreign woman and the couple is not married, however, the father may need to fight for the child's right to citizenship.