The US government says effective October 29, children of citizens born outside the country will no longer automatically become citizens of the country.
The directive is contained in a new policy issued on Wednesday by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
US citizenship can be acquired by being born in the country or children born abroad can acquire citizenship through their US citizen parents either at birth or before the age of 18.
But with the new policy, which the US says it does not exempt “children of U.S military and U.S. government employees stationed outside of the United States”, the children will now have to apply to become citizens.
USCIS said children affected by the policy change have the option of completing the naturalisation process abroad before the age of 18.
It explained that the policy change does not deny these children citizenship but narrows and affects the process through which they can become citizens.
USCIS says the policy could affect children of lawful permanent residents who naturalized after a child’s birth.
“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,” the policy read.
“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 322 8, and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday.
“The child of a member of the U.S. armed forces accompanying his or her parent abroad on official orders may be eligible to complete all aspects of the naturalization proceedings abroad. This includes interviews, filings, oaths, ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to naturalization.
“Applications filed on or after October 29, 2019 are subject to this policy. The policy in place before October 29, 2019 applies to applications filed before that date. Children who have already been recognized through the issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship as having acquired U.S. citizenship under INA 320 are not affected by this policy change.”
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