Q. I was born in New York, but I left when I was 3 years old. My parents are originally from Africa. I came back to New York fourteen years later. Now I am 21. USCIS refuses to give me a green card, even though I have a birth certificate. I would like to know what’s the procedure to get a green card?

December 16, 2011 | Naturalization

A. Thanks for your question. Almost everyone who is born in the United States is a United States citizen. There is an exception for the children of diplomats who are born in the United States. Those children are granted permanent resident status at their birth. So unless your parents were diplomats, you are a citizen, and you do not lose that status upon leaving the United States.

So, while you do not qualify for a green card, you do qualify for a U.S. passport. If you need help applying, visit one of the the CUNY Citizenship Now! free centers for help.