Trump policy changes automatic citizenship rules: What we know
WASHINGTON – A new policy change from the Trump administration about the citizenship status of some children born abroad to U.S. military members and government employees drew attention this week to a specific method by which foreign-born babies become citizens.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Wednesday announced a change to the definition of “residence” in regards to automatic citizenship for “children of certain U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. armed forces who are employed or stationed outside the United States.”
This policy change, which goes into effect Oct. 29, does not affect birthright citizenship, a USCIS official said in a phone call with reporters on Thursday.
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The USCIS official also said that this change comes to bring the agency “in line with long-standing Department of State policy.”
So what does this all mean? Here is a breakdown:
What does the new policy do?
The new distinction will make U.S. service members and government employees whose child is not automatically a United States citizen go through a different process to apply for their child’s citizenship.
Prior to this change, one of the forms that parents could have used was section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states that a child born outside of the U.S. will automatically become a citizen if they meet these requirements:
• At least one parent of the child is a citizen of the United States, whether by birth or naturalization.
• The child is under the age of eighteen.
• 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.
However, this new policy will change the definition of “residing in” and what that means, which means parents can no longer use that form to gain citizenship for their child.
“What’s changing here, is that we’re no longer defining residing in the United States as an exception where you can be outside the United States and be residing in the United States,” a USCIS official said.
“If they never resided in the U.S. in the custody of a U.S. citizen parent, they don’t meet the requirements of INA 320,” the official continued.
Under this new policy, parents will have to file a different form to obtain citizenship status for their child.
Who does this affect?
According to the USCIS, this change will only have an impact on a small group of people.
Between 20 and 25 people annually will be impacted by this change, the USCIS official said, citing data compiled from the last five years.
Those who will be affected by this change, according to USCIS, are:
• Children born abroad to non-U.S. citizen parents and are adopted after their birth by a U.S. citizen, a U.S. government employee or U.S. military members.
• Children born abroad to lawful permanent residents that are not U.S. citizens and are a U.S. government employee or U.S. service member who is naturalized only after the child’s birth
• Children born abroad of two U.S. government employee or U.S. service member parents who do not meet the residence or physical presence requirements to transmit citizenship to their child at birth (or one non-U.S. citizen parent and one U.S. citizen parent who does not meet these requirements)
The parents will now have to submit a different form called the N-600K. The form must be submitted while the child is under 18 years old.
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Why do this now?
It’s unclear why the Trump administration rolled out this change right now.
When asked for clarification as to why roll out this change now, a USCIS official reiterated that this was just meant to be in line with State Department standards.
“The hurdle that exists now is that [the State Department] is not issuing passports to this population and we’re issuing certificates of citizenship,” the official said. “So you have an agency not granting a travel document as evidence of citizenship to the same people that we might be saying you’re citizens.”