The Trump administration said Wednesday that the children of certain overseas U.S. military members and government employees would no longer automatically be granted United States citizenship because they are not physically "residing" in the country.
"The term 'residence' should not be confused with 'physical presence,' which refers to the actual time a person is in the United States, regardless of whether he or she has a residence in the United States," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said in a policy guidance issued Wednesday.
The directive, which takes effect Oct. 29, supersedes earlier guidance that automatically granted citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to children of U.S. service members and other government officials abroad because they were considered "residing in the United States."
But the change would not apply to children who acquired citizenship at birth or while living in the United States. Those include children born abroad to U.S. citizens who have lived in the United States at some time in the previous five years.
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 directive states.
Further, "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, and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday."
Meredith Parker, a USCIS spokesperson, told the Task & Purpose website: "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.
"For them to obtain a certificate of citizenship, their U.S. citizen parent must apply for citizenship on their behalf," Parker said.
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