Children of certain U.S. government employees and service members born abroad will no longer be automatically considered U.S. citizens, according to a new guidance by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), although the agency had a long list of categories that would be exempt from the guidance.
Historically, children born to U.S. citizen parents in foreign countries have been automatically granted citizenship under Immigration Nationality Act 320.
“Effective October 29, 2019, children residing abroad with their U.S. citizen parents who are U.S. government employees or members of the U.S. armed forces stationed abroad are not considered to be residing in the United States for acquisition of citizenship,” the new policy states, adding that “parents who are residing outside the United States with children who are not U.S. citizens should apply for U.S. citizenship on behalf of their children.”
“Leave taken in the United States while stationed abroad is not considered residing in the United States even if the person is staying in property he or she owns,” the policy clarified.
The guideline also states that parents must complete the application process before their child’s 18th birthday. It does not apply to children who have been granted citizenship in the U.S. at birth.
The policy appears to be targeting those seeking citizenship through the so-called derivation process. Previously, children who lived in a home overseas with their U.S. citizen parents fulfilled a residency requirement to derive citizenship. However, that residence must now be in the United States.
In a statement to The Hill, a Pentagon spokesperson predicted that the new policy will have a “small” impact.
“DoD has been working closely with our colleagues as DHS/USCIS regarding recent policy changes and understands the estimated impact of this particular change is small,” Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said. “However, we are committed to ensuring affected families are provided the appropriate information, resources, and support during this transition.”