8 FAM 302.6
Acquisition by Birth in Puerto Rico
(Office of Origin: CA/PPT/S/A)
8 FAM 302.6-1 Current Law
a. Puerto Rico comes within the definition of "United States" given in section 101(a)(38) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). A person born in Puerto Rico acquires U.S. citizenship in the same way as one born in any of the 50 States.
b. Section 302, INA (8 U.S.C. 1402) applies specifically to persons born in Puerto Rico on or after April 11, 1899.
8 FAM 302.6-2 U.S. Citizenship Granted to Citizens of Puerto Rico and Certain Natives of Puerto Rico
a. The act of March 2, 1917 (39 Stat. 953) granted U.S. citizenship as of that date to all citizens of Puerto Rico and to certain natives of Puerto Rico who had been absent from Puerto Rico on April 11, 1899, but had returned to reside permanently.
b. The following persons who did not make the declaration mentioned in section 5 became U.S. citizens as of March 2, 1917:
(1) All citizens of Puerto Rico regardless of their place of residence on March 2, 1917; and
(2) All natives of Puerto Rico who were not citizens of any foreign country and who were absent from Puerto Rico when the United States acquired it but had returned to Puerto Rico and were residing there on March 17, 1917.
c. In addition, alien women who were married to Puerto Rican citizens acquired U.S. citizenship automatically upon their husbands' acquisition of U.S. citizenship pursuant to Section 5, unless they were ineligible for naturalization.
d. The opportunity to decline U.S. citizenship was included in section 5 in recognition of the Puerto Rican nationalism of many Puerto Ricans. The act of March 4, 1927, (44 Stat. 1418) allowed a person to repudiate such a declaration within the year following the date of that Act and thereby to acquire U.S. citizenship. Section 322 NA permitted persons who had declared their intention not to become U.S. citizens under the act of March 2, 1917, to acquire U.S. citizenship by making a declaration before the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico at any time.
e. Other provisions of section 5 of the Act of March 2, 1917 permitted permanent residents of Puerto Rico who had been born there to alien parents to acquire U.S. citizenship by declaring allegiance before the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico within 6 months after March 2, 1917, or within 1 year of reaching age 21, if the person was still a minor on March 2, 1917. The act of March 4, 1927, amended section 5 to provide that qualified persons who had not taken the opportunity to become U.S. citizens by making such a declaration had another chance to do so before March 4, 1928.
8 FAM 302.6-3 U.S. Citizenship of Persons Born in Puerto Rico On or After March 2, 1917, and Before January 13, 1941
a. The act of March 2, 1917, as originally enacted, did not make any provisions for acquiring U.S. citizenship by birth in Puerto Rico.
b. The first law specifically relating to the acquisition of U.S. citizenship by birth in Puerto Rico was the act of June 27, 1934 (48 Stat. 1245).
c. Under this act, persons born in Puerto Rico after April 10, 1899, who were not U.S. citizens on June 27, 1934, acquired U.S. citizenship on that date unless they:
(1) Had acquired a foreign nationality at birth;
(2) Had in some way lost previously acquired U.S. citizenship before June 27, 1934; or
(3) Were on that date foreign citizens residing abroad.
d. Under the same act, persons born in Puerto Rico on or after June 27, 1934, but before January 13, 1941, became U.S. citizens at birth, unless they acquired a foreign nationality at birth through a parent.
e. The act of June 27, 1934, was intended to confer citizenship only on persons born in Puerto Rico who would otherwise be stateless; thus, acquisition of a foreign nationality in any manner, including by automatic operation of foreign law, would keep a person born in Puerto Rico from benefiting from the act of June 27, 1934.
f. Absent other laws conferring citizenship, a person born in Puerto Rico to two U.S. citizen parents could acquire U.S. citizenship under either the original or the amended version of section 1993, rev stat. (see 8 FAM 301.5). Such a person, who met the conditions specified in the 1934 amendment of the act of March 2, 1917, or Section 202 NA, was not obliged to comply with applicable retention requirements.
g. Persons born in Puerto Rico to aliens from March 2, 1917 to January 13, 1941 acquired no claim to U.S. citizenship unless they:
(1) Met the conditions of the 1934 amendment to the act of March 2, 1917;
(2) Were residing in the United States on January 13, 1941, when the Nationality Act of 1940 went into effect;
(3) Made a declaration before the District Court for Puerto Rico upon reaching age 21 or within one year thereafter; or
(4) Were naturalized as prescribed by U.S. law.
8 FAM 302.6-4 Effect of the Nationality Act of 1940 on Persons Born in Puerto Rico
a. To benefit from section 202 of the Nationality Act of 1940, a person did not have to be in Puerto Rico or other U.S. territory on January 13, 1941, as long as the person's residence there or in other U.S. territory continued. In Puig Jimenez v. Glover, 255 F.2d 54 (1st Cir., 1958), it was held that a woman born in Puerto Rico in 1922 to Spanish permanent residents of Puerto Rico, who accompanied her parents on a visit to Spain in 1936 and was unable to return to the United States until July 14, 1941, because of the Spanish Civil War, could still be considered a resident of Puerto Rico within the meaning of Section 202, NA and had acquired U.S. citizenship.
b. Puerto Rico came within the 1940 act's definition of "United States." Persons born there on or after January 13, 1941, acquired U.S. citizenship on the same terms as persons born in other parts of the United States. The current laws are quoted in 8 FAM 302.2-1.
8 FAM 302.6-5 Status Acquired By Birth Abroad to Puerto Rican U.S. Nationals after March 2, 1917
A child who acquired Puerto Rican citizenship by birth abroad to a Puerto Rican parent was entitled to U.S. citizenship automatically under the act of March 2, 1917 (see 8 FAM 308.7-3).