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President Carter granted citizenship to my grandmother in 1978. I don't know what the mechanism was, but she took no classes, no tests and did not even attend a ceremony and take an oath.

She had legally lived in the US from age 20 to age 80 as permanent resident alien, which meant she had to register every year with Immigration and Naturalization. She had a great deal of trouble learning English and was not a very confident person, but she had lived a very good, honest life. Because she so struggled with English she never applied for naturalization. But that also meant she was afraid to ever travel outside the US. Though legally she could have done so, she'd been advised by border agents at the Canadian border that it wouldn't be wise to do so, because there was a slight but appreciable risk that she could have trouble getting back into the U.S., even though she was a legal resident alien.

Though she would never have wanted to go back to live in her home country--she hadn't lived there for 60 years--she would have liked to have visited.

Somehow, without involving her in the process, a family member who was a close friend of a US Congressman somehow arranged for President Carter to grant her American citizenship by executive order. At her 80th birthday party, my uncle read the executive order from President Carter granting her American citizenship. The letter/order cited a bunch of things about her that made her worthy of citizenship.

One of her birthday gifts from her family was a two month trip to her country of origin. At her age ,it was surely her last chance to visit the place she was raised.

I don't know the legal basis for this, but it was definitely for real. She was able at that point to obtain an American passport and several months later took her first flight in a plane for her one and only visit to her homeland. She no longer had to register as an alien. She died about 15 years later.

I have no idea how rare this is, but I have never heard of another case like this. I have wondered if this was more of a one-off or something that has been done for other people. What I do know is that the president himself issued the order for this very humble woman he had never met and his signature was on the order that was presented to her.

My grandmother was extremely grateful for the rest of her life. She so wanted to be an American, but try as she might, her English was very poor.

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Q: Can the US President grant automatic American citizenship?
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