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Citizenship for children of gov employees abroad may be limited

The government continues to change and refine immigration laws for those entering the country legally, illegally, and even for those who are U.S. citizens. The latest example is said to be an alignment between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ISCIS). Due to go into effect in October 29, the shift would make it more difficult for children of employees working for the U.S. government in foreign countries to get their citizenship. There is a long list of exemptions, but the general rule states that these children would have to go through a more rigorous exam before they are 18 than other children. This could be done while they still live abroad.

Who is not affected

The government recently issued a press release on the matter. Common examples of children this would not affect are:

  • The child of a U.S. citizen and other automatic birthright citizenships
  • A child born to one U.S. citizen who has lived in the U.S. or one of its territories for at least five years and the child lived there for at least two of its years.
  • A child born to unmarried parents where one is a U.S. citizen who meets the requirements of an INA 309
  • Are otherwise eligible to receive citizenship aboard due to birthright
  • Are legally admitted and residing in the U.S. in the legal and physical custody of their U.S. citizen parent

Who does it target?

This “clarification” is directed towards children of employees who have never lived or worked in the United States, but they may have been born to parents who were foreign nationals on a U.S. base in a foreign country. Birthright citizenship is unaffected, but the language of the announcement has set alarms for some people. Those with questions should contact an attorney who handles immigration and citizenship matters.

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber