Some children born to U.S. military and government employees overseas will no longer be automatically granted citizens of the United States, according to policy alert issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Wednesday.
Beforehand, all children born to U.S. citizen parents were deemed to be “residing in the United States,” and therefore would be automatically granted citizenship under Immigration and Nationality Act 320. Soon, 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., replacing 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 change was first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle.
“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 questioned 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 finished before the child’s 18th birthday.
According to USCIS, earlier legislation also specifically stated that spouses of service members who were living outside the U.S. because of their spouses were considered residing in the U.S., but “that no similar provision was included for children of U.S. armed forces members in the acquisition of citizenship context is significant.”
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of USCIS, said in a statement that “this policy update does not affect who is born a U.S. citizen, period.”
“This only affects children who were born outside the United States and were not U.S. citizens. This does NOT impact birthright citizenship. This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of US government employees or members of the military born abroad,” he added, though Task & Purpose did not report that citizenship would be rejected. “This policy aligns USCIS’ process with the Department of State’s procedure, that’s it.”
In plain terms: Children who are adopted by U.S. service members abroad, and children who are born to service members while overseas who are not yet citizens (i.e. service members who are green card holders) will not gain automatic citizenship by merely living with their parents who are out of the U.S on military/government orders.