Many people in California have become concerned by changes to immigration law and regulations proposed or implemented by the Trump administration. Despite rhetoric about undocumented immigration and enforcing the law, some of these proposed changes have a far more significant impact on U.S. citizens, legal residents and even government employees and members of the military. One such change announced Aug. 28 will affect how kids born to U.S. citizens living abroad receive their citizenship. Traditionally, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has considered the children of members of the U.S. armed forces or government employees living abroad to automatically receive citizenship at birth.
While these children were actually outside of the country, they were deemed to be “residing” in the country for the purpose of citizenship. Under the policy change, some children of government workers and members of the military may have to take extra steps in order to become citizens. Their parents may have to file additional paperwork, and the children may have to come to the U.S. to formally take a citizenship oath after obtaining a visa or a green card for the child. Many people were highly concerned about the announcement, but the administration has claimed that only a small number of people would be affected.
USCIS spokespeople said that the change would apply to children adopted abroad by their parents, children of parents who became U.S. citizens after their birth, children of U.S. citizens who never lived in the country and children of recently naturalized citizens. Even with the clarification, some worry that it could be an attempt to undermine birthright citizenship.
With rapidly changing immigration laws and widespread political attention to the issue, many are concerned that their own ability to stay in the U.S. could be affected. An immigration law attorney can provide guidance and work to protect a client’s rights.