What Is Your Nationality if Born in the USA?

If you are born in the United States, you would typically be considered a U.S. citizen. The principle of birthright citizenship, also known as jus soli, grants citizenship to individuals born within the territorial jurisdiction of a country, such as the United States.

Definition of nationality

Nationality is a term that refers to an individual’s connection or identification with a particular nation or country. It is usually determined by the place of one’s birth or by the citizenship of their parents. In general, nationality is associated with ethnic and cultural affiliations, which can be inherited or embraced as part of a person’s self-identity.

When a person is born in the United States, their nationality is typically considered to be American. This is due to the country’s legal principle of jus soli, or “right of the soil,” which grants nationality to individuals born within its borders. This includes people from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, who may also identify with other nationalities based on their parents’ origins.

Characteristics of nationality

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If you’re born in the United States, your nationality is American. This status comes with several unique characteristics that set it apart from other nationalities around the world.

  • First, as an American, you have birthright citizenship, also known as jus soli. This means that regardless of your parents’ nationalities, you automatically become a citizen of the country you were born in. Only over 30 countries in the world offer this type of citizenship, making it a significant privilege.
  • Second, being an American national comes with certain rights and responsibilities. You have the right to vote in elections, hold public office, and enjoy the protection of the U.S. government. On the other hand, you have a responsibility to obey the country’s laws and pay taxes to support the nation’s infrastructure and services.
  • Lastly, in the United States, nationality and ethnicity are considered separate aspects of one’s identity. While nationality refers to your political status and relationship with a specific country, ethnicity is related to cultural practices and customs that you might identify with. In this diverse nation, your American nationality can easily coexist with a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and traditions.

Factors influencing nationality determination

When determining nationality, several factors come into play, especially for individuals born in the USA. These factors help define a person’s nationality and ensure they are granted the rights and privileges of citizenship.

  • Birthright citizenship: According to the 14th Amendment, any person born in the United States automatically acquires American citizenship, regardless of their parents’ nationality. This birthright citizenship extends even to children born to non-citizen parents, making them full-fledged American citizens.
  • Parental citizenship: Children born outside the US may still be considered American citizens at birth if at least one of their parents is already an American citizen. The US citizen parent must meet certain residence or physical presence requirements in the United States or its outlying possessions before the child’s birth.
  • Legal marriage status: The statuses of being either “born in wedlock” or “out of wedlock” play a significant role in determining nationality for children born outside the US. For example, if the child’s legal parents are married and at least one of them is the genetic or gestational parent, the child may acquire US citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Retention requirements: Prior to October 10, 1978, individuals who acquired US citizenship through birth outside the US were required to meet certain physical presence requirements to retain their citizenship. The retention requirements have since been eliminated for persons born after that date, but those born before may be affected if they failed to meet these retention requirements.
  • Legal and court rulings: Over the years, there have been numerous legal and court rulings that have influenced nationality determination, including decisions by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Supreme Court. These rulings have sometimes altered the interpretation of nationality laws, adding complexity to the process of determining an individual’s nationality.

What is your nationality if born in usa

Being born in the USA grants an individual a distinct nationality, referred to as American. This is due to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states that individuals born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the country as well as the state they reside in. Consequently, this makes them US nationals by default.

It is important to note the difference between citizenship and nationality. While citizenship is a political status that can change over time, nationality is directly linked to an individual’s place of birth and their cultural background. Therefore, nationality is considered innate, while citizenship can be subject to change. For example, a person can be a citizen of multiple countries, or renounce their citizenship. In the United States, US citizens and US nationals are often synonymous, but not all US nationals are US citizens.

Birthright Citizenship in the USA

Birthright citizenship in the USA is guaranteed to most individuals born on American soil, including territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is due to the 14th Amendment introduced after the abolishment of slavery in 1868.

Children born in the USA to U.S. citizens, foreign diplomats, and even illegal aliens automatically acquire citizenship. This is known as jus soli or the law of the soil principle. Furthermore, children born abroad to U.S. citizens are also granted citizenship under certain circumstances.

Despite controversies surrounding the topic, birthright citizenship remains an essential aspect of the nation’s legal and social fabric. In conclusion, for the majority of people born in the United States, their nationality is American due to the well-established principle of birthright citizenship.

Eligibility criteria for birthright citizenship in the USA

  • Child Born in the United States: Any person born in the United States, subject to its jurisdiction, automatically acquires US citizenship at birth. This includes children born in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories.
  • Children of US Citizen Parents: A child born outside the United States may qualify for citizenship at birth if at least one parent is a US citizen meeting certain residency or physical presence requirements before the child’s birth.
  • Children of Unknown Parentage Found in the US: Under federal law, a person found in the United States under the age of five with unknown parentage is considered a US citizen until proven otherwise before the age of 21.
  • Children Born in US Outlying Possessions: A person born in an outlying possession, such as Puerto Rico or Guam, to at least one US citizen parent who has been physically present in the country or its outlying possessions may also acquire citizenship at birth.

Difference between nationality and citizenship

Nationality and citizenship are often used interchangeably but actually have different meanings. Nationality refers to a person’s ethnic or racial origin and indicates the country where they were born. Citizenship, on the other hand, is a legal status granted by a government after meeting certain requirements, giving an individual the right to reside, work, pay taxes, and vote in that country.

While nationality is acquired at birth or by inheritance, citizenship can also be obtained through marriage, naturalization, and registration. Nationality is generally limited to one country, whereas an individual can become a citizen of multiple countries.

It is important to remember that citizenship is a political status, whereas nationality is an ethnic or racial concept. Understanding this distinction can help avoid misconceptions surrounding one’s identity and affiliation to a country.


In conclusion, a person’s nationality if born in the United States depends on the circumstances surrounding their birth. The majority of individuals born within U.S. territory are granted birthright citizenship, which is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. This includes those born in U.S. territories and possessions, as well as children born to U.S. citizens abroad, subject to certain exceptions.




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