The Trump administration said Wednesday that the children of certain U.S. military members and government employees working overseas will no longer automatically be considered United States citizens.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy rescinding previous guidance stating that children of U.S. service members and other government officials abroad are considered “residing in the United States” and automatically given citizenship under a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The new policy guidance states that USCIS “no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.”
The new rule will not apply to children who acquire citizenship at birth or while residing in the United States, according to the guidance. That includes children born abroad to U.S. citizens who have resided in the United States at some point in the past five years.
The policy is aimed at children seeking to acquire citizenship through what is known as the derivation process, a fast-track to citizenship for children of U.S. citizens.
To derive citizenship, children must fulfill a residency requirement. Under previous regulations, living in a home abroad with their U.S. citizen parents fulfilled that requirement; the new rule will require that residence to be on U.S. soil.
These children will now need to apply for citizenship under Section 322 of the INA, which considers them as born and residing outside the United States. That provision requires them to apply for naturalization, which must be completed before the child turns 18.
The new policy will take effect Oct. 29, according to the USCIS notice.
"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," a USCIS spokesperson told Task & Purpose.
"For them to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for citizenship on their behalf."