According to policy alert issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Wednesday. Some children born to U.S. service members and government employees overseas will no longer be automatically considered citizens of the United States
Previously, all children born to U.S. citizen parents were considered to be “residing in the United States,” and therefore would be automatically granted citizenship under Immigration and Nationality Act 320.
Now, children born to U.S. service members and government employees who are not yet themselves U.S. citizens, while abroad, will not be considered as residing in the U.S., changing the way that they potentially receive citizenship. Children who are not U.S. citizens and are adopted by U.S. service members while living abroad will also no longer receive automatic citizenship by living with the U.S. citizen adopted parents.
The rule appears to primarily affect the children of naturalized US citizens serving in the armed forces who have not lived in the US for a required period of time, a relatively small number — estimated to be approximately 100 annually, according to a Defense Department official. It does not impact anyone born in the United States.
US citizenship can be acquired a few ways, including being born in the country. Children born abroad can acquire citizenship through their US citizen parents either at birth or before the age of 18.
The change was first reported by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Tal Kopan.
“The policy change explains that we will not consider children who live abroad with their parents to be residing in the United States even if their parents are U.S. government employees or U.S. service members stationed outside of the United States, and as a result, these children will no longer be considered to have acquired citizenship automatically,” USCIS spokesperson Meredith Parker originally told Task & Purpose on Wednesday, when asked how the policy changes how the government views children of U.S. service members.
“For them to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for citizenship on their behalf,” she added. The process under INA 322 must be completed before the child’s 18th birthday
While the latest policy guidance doesn’t make anyone ineligible for citizenship, it appears to narrow how children abroad can gain citizenship. President Donald Trump has occasionally voiced his support for ending birthright citizenship and said last week he was “seriously” considering ending it, though it’s unclear how he’d have the legal authority to do so. Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said on Twitter that the new policy “does NOT impact birthright citizenship.”
Still, the policy, which takes effect on October 29, sparked confusion among military and diplomatic groups who immediately denounced the alert, concerned that the rule change would place hurdles before children of federal employees and military workers serving abroad.