COLUMBIA, S.C. — Many of you had questions about a change to citizenship and naturalization policy that would potentially impact military families with children living abroad.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent out a policy alert that said it was changing requirements for granting citizenship to children born abroad.
Specifically, the policy change mentioned children born to U.S. service men and women and government employees overseas, which immigration attorney Mike Pinilla said is the majority.
“You look at a whole scope of things it probably impacts a small group of people, it certainly impacts the military the most because those are the US citizens that are having children outside the US,” Pinilla said on Thursday.
Originally, the policy document described changes to residency and presence requirements for parents trying to claim citizenship for their children born abroad.
At one point the document reads:
“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. Similarly, 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. Therefore, U.S. citizen 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 under INA 3228, and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday.”
However, late Wednesday and Thursday, Immigration Services put out a few clarifications.
In Twitter posts, the Agency said the policy update only affected children born and living abroad that had been adopted by US citizens, parents whom are not citizens but permanent residents, and parents whom are citizens but do not meet U.S. requirements to transmit citizenship.
Pinilla said nothing in the policy affects citizenship in the United States.
“Now of course, everything that was said in there says it doesn't change birthright citizenship, which is if you're born in the US then you're a US citizen no matter who your parents are,” Pinilla said.
Immigration Services said the policy change did not apply to children born out of the country to U.S. citizen parents that work for the government or Armed Services that are stationed overseas.
The policy goes into effect on October 29, 2019.