Services for U.S. Citizens

At the Seattle Law Office of Bonnie Stern Wasser, we represent American citizens as well as immigrants. U.S. citizenship issues have become more common and urgent in recent years. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and other federal and state agencies have mandated stricter identification document requirements for travel, evidence of work authorization, and other domestic uses, including security clearances for sensitive private and government jobs. Many states have also tightened up voter identification requirements (that are being litigated in the courts). The REAL ID Act pertaining to secure state drivers licenses has also created problems for some American citizens who no longer drive, have never driven or had state IDs. In addition, Medicaid, Social Security and other public benefit programs have strict documentation requirements. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in requests for help with proving U.S. citizenship status.


Increasingly, the U.S. State Department has made it more difficult to obtain passports for people with delayed birth certificates, birth certificates issued where mothers used midwives along the southern border, and for people trying to document births abroad through automatic or derivative citizenship. Therefore, we provide services to Americans with these issues and other difficulties obtaining passports.


For some people, proving U.S. Citizenship can be difficult. In fact, some people are U.S. citizens and don’t even know it. We cover this topic at every consultation – just in case. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution bestows U.S. citizenship automatically to people born in the U.S. However, citizenship can also be automatic or derived through the generations. Our citizenship legislation is a patchwork of many different laws enacted during different periods of time that deal with births abroad to one or both U.S. citizen parents based on residence, physical presence, military service, certain employment abroad and other obscure requirements. These services sometimes turn into genealogy projects as well. It’s always exciting when we have a client that can bypass the immigration process and apply directly for a U.S. passport or certificate of citizenship.


We provide consulting services about dual citizenship issues or to help weigh the pros and cons of becoming a U.S. citizen if the client’s home country does not recognize dual citizenship. We have a network of colleagues in other countries to whom we can refer and/or assist Americans who want to obtain another citizenship elsewhere.


Expatriation (giving up U.S. citizenship) must be truly voluntary and has extreme consequences. We work with your tax and estate counsel to determine if this is appropriate and assist where required. Giving up U.S. citizenship is a grave matter. The U.S. government wants you to carefully think about it and take the time to understand the consequences.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection has several programs for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent immigrants who are  frequent trusted travelers that supposedly guarantee faster inspections (though it doesn’t always work out that way). Unfortunately, these programs have zero tolerance policies for any type of customs or immigration mistake.  We assist clients with obtaining status or dealing with revocation of status or extension problems with Global Entry, Nexus, Sentri and Fast.


We are proud to serve the men and women in uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces. Military related services that we provide include Parole in Place (PIP) applications for qualified family members not otherwise eligible to adjust status in the US; counseling, applications or referrals regarding posthumous citizenship, expedited citizenship for service members and certain dependents, survivor benefits for dependents, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) analysis, and counseling regarding Selective Service registration obligations.


Because of our expertise with citizenship laws, and because we are experienced with filing Freedom of Information Requests for our clients’ government files, we can help families find genealogy information about their ancestors through various government and genealogy websites. We can also help interpret ancestors’ immigration and citizenship status from records already collected.