USCIS Changes Citizenship Status for Some Children of U.S. Military Members and Overseas Government Officials

In a statement last week, USCIS announced a change of citizenship status for some children born overseas to U.S. military members and government officials. The guidance essentially rescinds certain parts of previously established USCIS policy that stated certain children who were born and lived outside of the U.S. were considered “residing in” the U.S. Now, parents of these children must follow a new process to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.

The policy highlights the difference between physical presence in the United States and residence, firmly establishes that temporary visits to the United States do not legally classify as a residence, and explains that the USCIS no longer considers these children to be “residing in the United States,” for citizenship purposes.

The new policy is not expected to affect a large number of people. However, this policy may affect your child if he or she is a non-citizen child who was adopted by you, a U.S. citizen, government employee or U.S. service member after his or her birth. The new policy may also affect you if you are a non-citizen parent, such as a lawful permanent resident government employee or service member who naturalized after your child was born. Finally, the policy may also affect children who were born to two United States citizen service members or government employees who did not meet the residence or physical presence requirements to transmit citizenship to their child at birth.

Fortunately, this policy change will not affect several other large groups of people. For example, this policy will not affect you if you:

  • Were born to two U.S. citizen parents, at least one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions before you were birth
  • Were born to married parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen and one a foreign national, if your U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions for at least five years, at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old
  • Were born to unmarried parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen and one a foreign national, if the U.S. citizen parent meets the requirements listed in INA 309
  • Are residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of your U.S. citizen parent after being lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence
  • Are otherwise eligible to receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) or a Certificate of Citizenship documenting U.S. citizenship acquired at birth

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