Immigration policies have been a hot topic for decades; however, it has been in the forefront in the mind of many citizens and foreigners that reside in the country or seek to come to the U.S. during this election year. While immigration matters can take on a wide range of issues, citizenship or legal status is not only a concern for those coming into the country, but it is also an issue faced by American citizenship living abroad. Specifically, military families living abroad who have a child while living abroad may face citizenship issues for their baby.
Citizenship for children of military members
Earlier this year, Congress passed an Act that would automatically recognize children born to a military member abroad as legal citizens of the U.S. Previously; military members would have to jump through hoops to establish citizenship for their child that was born while stationed abroad. USCIS’ policy required that children born abroad to a U.S. citizen or green cardholding military members or children born abroad and adopted by a U.S. citizen serving abroad need to apply for citizenship. This caused military members to spend much time and money going through the application process.
Impact on military members
It was determined that roughly two dozen children are born to military members stationed abroad. Thus, this specific policy impacts a small number of individuals each year. Previously, the USCIS policy treated children born abroad to military members as residing in the U.S.; however, the new policy requires them to apply for citizenship. This caused uproar among military members because had they not been stationed abroad during their child’s birth, their child would have received automatic citizenship.
Due to the recent changes, automatic citizenship is now afforded to children born abroad to a military member stationed abroad. This also covers military members who adopt a child that was born abroad. However, if the child is born to green card holders, this will still require an application for citizenship for the child.
While military members may have citizenship issues addressed, this is still a matter faced by Americans working in another country when expanding their family. These matters may seem straightforward; however, it can turn complex, as it requires specific forms and a multi-phased process. Thus, it is important that one fully understands how to navigate this process, helping them successfully obtain citizenship for their child born abroad.