A diplomat's child is not a citizen of their country?

In another thread this was shared: “Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person born in the U.S. to an accredited foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to U.S. law and is not automatically considered a U.S. citizen at birth.” Why is this part of the law? They don’t “inherit” it from their parent? This doesn’t seem like common sense to me, unless I’m missing something obvious.

As I understand it, a French diplomat to the US (for example) is in many ways subject to French laws despite being in the US. Their embassy is considered French soil. So their child, who is only in the US because of the parent’s diplomatic role, isn’t automatically a US citizen despite being born in the US because they are considered to be in the diplomat parent’s French ‘bubble’.

Ah yes, that makes it much clearer. Not sure what I was confused about. Thanks! Now if one parent is a US citizen, do they automatically get US citizenship? Which takes precedent?

I would assume that the rule only overrides the whole ‘physically born in the US = US citizen’ clause and that if you gain citizenship some other way that’s all good, but IANAL or diplomat

For some background, compare jus sanguinis (“right of blood”, that is, based on your parents) with jus soli (“right of soil”, that is, based on your place of birth).

So, if the child is born in the embassy they are subject to the laws of that country. But what if the child is born outside of the embassy? My sense is they are a US citizen. Maybe the diplomat’s host country also gives the child citizenship in their country…or not.

No, it doesn’t matter where in the US the child is physically born. If their parents are in the US by virtue of their status as diplomats or spouses thereof, they aren’t a citizen. This is one of the very few exceptions to the general rule of birthright citizenship. Of course it would be up to the other country if they considered the baby a citizen or not, but I can’t imagine any country ever deciding “not”. Would make it harder to recruit diplomats, for one thing.


Where is that exception spelled out in the law?

Not really. Their home country could also confer citizenship. Dual citizenship is a thing.

Lots of stuff out there discussing “natural born” citizenship that states that if you are born within the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof…" Since diplomats aren’t, neither are their kids considered natural born citizens.

Are diplomats wholly immune to the local laws in all circumstances? If one wanted to claim US citizenship for their child born in a US hospital do you think the US could deny that citizenship?

Pretty much, yeah. There have been a lot of threads about this. Obviously if they committed some really serious crime one hopes their country would either withdraw their diplomatic status so they could be tried here, or bring them home and try them for it there, but they are under no obligation to do so. The host country can expel the offending diplomat, of course, but can’t otherwise punish them.

Ok…not what we are on about in this thread though.

A baby born in the US is automatically a US citizen. I am unaware of any caveats to that law.

You might say a baby born in an embassy is only subject to that country’s laws. But, born outside of that embassy and it is a US citizen (if born within US territory).

Whether the child also has citizenship with their parents’ country is up to that country.

Under United States Federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1401), a person is a United States national and citizen if:

  • the person is born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof

That excludes diplomats and their spawn, wherever they are born.

Does the child have diplomatic immunity? Does a wife have diplomatic immunity?

Depends on the specifics of the relationship between their home country and the US, but generally yes, they do. So cops can’t arrest a diplomat’s toddler for disturbing the peace for crying at the opera.

There’s a whole thread about this. This woman has been ruled to not be a US citizen even though she was born here, because her parents were diplomats. The facts of her particular case were complicated, but nobody disputes the basic principle that birthright citizenship doesn’t apply to diplomats’ kids.

Children of Diplomats | Scott Legal, P.C..a nice summary of the issue here by a legal expert

In short, no — a child born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer does not receive U.S. citizenship at birth. However, many employees of foreign governments — including consular officials — are not considered “foreign diplomatic officers” for purposes of U.S. immigration law.

For those individuals who were born to foreign diplomat parents on U.S. soil, there are specific laws that allow them to become lawful permanent residents and, ultimately, naturalized U.S. citizens, should they choose this option.

What does the law say?

While the U.S. Constitution has little to say about immigration, the 14th Amendment does state that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

A child born to a foreign diplomat on U.S. soil is clearly “born … in the United States,” but they are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States. As a result, a child born in the U.S. to foreign diplomat parents is not a U.S. citizen at birth.

8 CFR 101.3(a)(1) makes the point explicitly. Quoting the section in full:

“A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Such a person may be considered a lawful permanent resident at birth.”

much more in the article

So…a law undid a Constitutional amendment?

Neat trick. I’d like to see what the SCOTUS would say about it.

That’s actually where I came upon the idea. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m not sure how you are seeing that the law undoes the 14th amendment. They seem consistent to me.