Published: Thu, August 29, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Will Children of US Troops Born Overseas No Longer Get US Citizenship?

Will Children of US Troops Born Overseas No Longer Get US Citizenship?

US citizens who do not meet the residence or physical presence rules needed to transmit birthright citizenship, such as a person born overseas with birthright citizenship who never lived in the United States.

The Trump administration is making it more hard for the children of some US service members and US government employees living overseas to automatically become US citizens, according to a policy alert released Wednesday by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. It "rescinds previously established USCIS policy, which stated that certain children who were living outside the United States were considered "residing in" the United States".

Servicemembers stationed overseas whose son or daughter is not an American now face a new process for applying for their child's citizenship under policy changes announced Wednesday by the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But under the new policy, as of October 29, certain parents serving overseas in the US armed forces and with other branches of the federal government will be required to formally apply for USA citizenship on their children's behalf before their kids turn 18.

The new rules will not apply to children who obtain USA citizenship at birth or while living in the US, including children born out of the country but whose parents have resided in the US within the past five years, the USCIS said.

Military bases outside of the United States are not considered within the United States for birthright citizenship, so children gain citizenship through their parents, according to USCIS.

"The new policy "[does] not affect anyone who is born a US citizen, period", USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement to Military.com. To obtain citizenship, these parents must apply for citizenship on their child's behalf, by filling out a form and meeting other requirements.

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But the change could conceivably give Trump room to argue that his administration curtailed birthright benefits that a citizen with little or no actual USA residency can automatically confer to their foreign-born offspring.

The directive, which takes effect October 29, supersedes earlier guidance that automatically granted citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to children of US service members and other government officials overseas because they were considered "residing in the United States".

(3) The child is residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. That includes children born outside of the country as long as their parents resided in the United States within the last five years.

"US laws allow children to acquire United States citizenship other than through birth in the US".

Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli took to Twitter to stress that the new rule "does NOT impact birthright citizenship".

Still, changing the rules stirred widespread confusion Wednesday amid concerns about the Trump administration's emphasis on restricting immigration and amid fears that federal employees and military workers - including those deployed to military bases or unsafe countries - might not have the ability to protect their own children. "This policy aligns USCIS' process with the Department of State's procedures for these children - that's it. Period".

The guidance comes just days after President Donald Trump said he was "seriously" considering ending U.S. birthright citizenship. "I can't for the life of me figure out why our government would want to turn around and change a policy to make it harder on them and harder on their children".

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