8 FAM 308.7
Acquisition by Birth in Puerto Rico
(Office of Origin: CA/PPT/S/A)
8 FAM 308.7-1 Status of Inhabitants of Puerto Rico After April 11, 1899, Before March 2, 1917
a. Treaty of Paris of 1899
(1) Sovereignty over Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain to the United States by the Treaty of Paris of 1899 (30 Stat. 1754), following the Spanish‑American War;
(2) Referring to the Iberian Peninsula, Article IX of the treaty, states, in part, that Spanish subjects, natives of the Peninsula, residing in the territory over which Spain by the present treaty relinquishes or cedes her sovereignty, may remain in such territory or may remove there from. In case they remain in the territory, they may preserve their allegiance to the Crown of Spain by making, before a court of record, within one year from the date of exchange of ratifications of this treaty (April 11, 1899), a declaration of their decision to preserve such allegiance, in default of which declaration they shall be held to have adopted the nationality of the territory in which they may reside. The civil rights and political status of the native inhabitants of the territory hereby ceded to the United States shall be determined by the Congress;
(3) The Governments of Spain and the United States agreed that:
(a) Only the Spanish subjects who had been born in the Spanish Peninsula could opt not to acquire U.S. nationality (not citizenship);
(b) Spanish subjects born in Puerto Rico had no such right. If they were residents of Puerto Rico, they became U.S. nationals automatically; and
(c) A Spanish‑born male could elect Spanish nationality on behalf of his Spanish‑born wife and children but not on behalf of a wife or child born in Puerto Rico.
(4) The Department has a list of the Spaniards in Puerto Rico who made article IX declarations to retain Spanish nationality. Questions about whether a particular person made a declaration should be referred by telegram to the Department (CA/OCS); and
(5) The status of persons who were not Spanish‑subject inhabitants of Puerto Rico on April 11, 1899, was not affected by the treaty.
b. Act of April 12, 1900:
(1) After the year during which a declaration could be made to preserve Spanish nationality, Congress quickly took steps to define the status of the inhabitants of Puerto Rico. A Spanish subject who resided in Puerto Rico on April 11, 1899, and continued to reside there until April 12, 1900, acquired Puerto Rican citizenship and non-citizen U.S. nationality, unless that person was born in the Spanish peninsula and had declared an intention to keep Spanish nationality;
(2) In 1902, in determining that "American artist" as used in the U.S. Customs regulations applied to a native of Puerto Rico who was a Spanish subject on April 11, 1899, but who on that day and on April 12, 1900, was residing temporarily in France pursuing the profession of artist, the Attorney General indicated that a person need not be physically present in Puerto Rico to benefit from the treaty and the Act of April 12, 1900. However, a Spanish citizen in Puerto Rico who was not residing there permanently would not have acquired U.S. nationality or Puerto Rican citizenship (24 Op Atty. Gen. 40). It was held that residence was a legal matter to be determined by the facts in each case; and
(3) Generally, "residence" was taken to mean a permanent dwelling place, or domicile, to which a person, when absent, intended to return. In determining whether a person's residence in Puerto Rico could continue during a stay abroad, the Department examined the nature of the absence (prolonged and permanent or temporary due to employment, schooling, and so forth), evidence of permanent ties to Puerto Rico (such as ownership of property, payment of taxes, and/or presence of family), and the possible existence of a fixed home elsewhere.
8 FAM 308.7-2 Status Acquired by Birth in Puerto Rico After Annexation but Before March 2, 1917
a. A child born in Puerto Rico after April 11, 1900, and before March 2, 1917, acquired Puerto Rican citizenship and non-citizen U.S. nationality if one of its parents was a Puerto Rican citizen under Section 7 of the Act of April 12, 1900.
b. If the child was born out of wedlock to a Puerto Rican father and an alien mother, legitimation was necessary before the child acquired the father's status. A child who acquired Puerto Rican citizenship through a parent could benefit from the act of March 2, 1917 (see 8 FAM 302.6-2).
c. A child born in Puerto Rico to alien parents did not acquire non-citizen U.S. nationality or Puerto Rican citizenship at birth. Aliens born in Puerto Rico could acquire citizenship by naturalization in the usual fashion or by taking the steps required by the act of March 2, 1917, or the act of March 4, 1927 (described in 8 FAM 302.6-2), or by meeting the conditions specified by the Act of June 27, 1934 (see 8 FAM 302.2-2(D)).
8 FAM 308.7-3 Status Acquired By Birth Abroad to Puerto Rican U.S. Nationals
a. Section 7 of the Act of April 12, 1900 provided that a child born any time after April 11, 1899, in any place to a person who became a Puerto Rican citizen and a non-citizen U.S. national pursuant to the Treaty of Peace with Spain and the Act of April 12, 1900, acquired the Puerto Rican citizen parent's status at birth.
b. To acquire the father's status a child born out of wedlock to a Puerto Rican father and an alien mother had to be legitimated.
c. 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 302.6-5).