New Citizenship Policy for Children Born Overseas
October 23, 2019
A recent proposal to change the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) process granting American citizenship to children born outside of the U.S. has been met with widespread opposition. The proposal would change the rules granting automatic birthright citizenship currently available to children born in a foreign country to parents that are already U.S. citizens. Many opponents fear the new proposal will require U.S. military members to endure a lengthy and expensive process to obtain U.S. citizenship for their children born in foreign countries.
What Changes are Ahead in the New Policy?
Officials from the USCIS claim that the effects of the proposed policy changes will be minimal. Over the past five years, only 20 to 25 cases would have been affected by the proposed changes. Officials reassure those that will be affected by the anticipated changes will have alternate means of obtaining U.S. citizenship for their children.
The current USCIS policy grants automatic citizenship to children born overseas to a U.S. parent by giving them U.S. residency status. This policy does not align with the policies that the State Department uses to grant passports to children born outside the United States. The proposed changes will make the policies between these two agencies consistent.
The Immigration and Nationality Act grants citizenship to a child born to a natural or naturalized citizen of the United States that meet certain requirements. Those that are born outside the U.S. and hold green cards will still be able to become citizens of the United States; however, exceptions will apply. Automatic citizenship will not be granted to:
- Children born outside the United States that do not have a green card that are adopted by a U.S. citizen
- Children of naturalized U.S. service members, government employees, and non-citizens who naturalize after the birth of their child.
- Children born to U.S. citizens that do not meet the residency requirements currently mandated by law
Lawmakers emphasize that these children may still acquire U.S. citizenship under the proposed policy changes, but will not be granted birthright citizenship.
Acquiring Citizenship Under the Proposed Changes
There are several ways that children born outside of the United States can acquire citizenship under the proposed policy changes:
- The child born to U.S. parents overseas can acquire a green card and move back to the United States with their parents to gain the residency status that is needed to meet citizenship requirements.
- Parents with U.S. citizenship can apply for their child’s citizenship while still overseas under a section of immigration law outside of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Parents would need to bring their child to the United States to take an oath of citizenship, however, military families will be able to complete the entire process overseas.
Opponents to the proposed changes claim the new policy will require military families to hire a lawyer and go through a lengthy process to get their children to become U.S. citizens. Legislators argue that these families will still be able to acquire citizenship for their children without suffering extreme burden.
Philadelphia Citizenship Lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Offer Legal Counsel for Citizenship Issues
If you are facing a citizenship issue, contact the Philadelphia citizenship lawyers at the Law Offices of MC Law Group, LLC Call us at 215-496-0690 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.