USCIS Implements New Law for Citizenship for Children of Military Members

On September 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services updated their policy guidance regarding residency requirements under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This was done to be in compliance with the requirements of the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act that was recently enacted. 

The new law states that a child born outside of the United States acquires automatic citizenship under INA 320, even if the child is residing outside of the United States, in cases where the child is a lawful permanent resident and is in the custody of their U.S. citizen parent who is one of the following:

  • Stationed and residing outside the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces
  • Stationed and residing outside of the United States as an employee of the U.S. government
  • The spouse residing outside the United States in a marital union with a U.S. armed forces member or U.S> government employee who is stationed outside of the United States

In addition to this, the child in question is required to meet all generally applicable requirements for automatic acquisition of citizenship under INA 320(a) and (b), with the exception of the residence requirement. When dealing with cases of U.S. armed forces, the child and the U.S. citizen parent must be authorized to accompany and reside abroad with the armed forces member pursuant to the member’s official orders. It is important to note that this new law reverses the policy change issued by USCIS in August 2019 to align with existing State Department policy and federal law. 

As of March 26, 2020, parents who are citizens of the U.S. and military/government employees or their spouses, stationed outside of the country, can file Form N-600. This is the Application for Certificate of Citizenship for children residing outside the U.S. because their children, if eligible under the new INA 320(c), are exempt from the requirement to be residing in the country. When the requirements are met and they travel to the country to complete the process, the child can obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. This applies to eligible children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.

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