The Trump Administration is changing the policy on who is granted automatic citizenship. On Wednesday Ken Cuccinelli, acting director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), announced in a statement that the children of certain United States service members and other federal employees would no longer qualify for the status. The decision nullifies a former policy that considered certain children living outside of the U.S. as “residing” in the United States.
According to the policy release, parents of the children will now have to apply for citizenship for their child prior to them turning 18. It also clarifies that temporary visits to the U.S. do not establish U.S. residency, and explains the difference between a resident and someone who is physically staying in the U.S.
The White House says the reason for the update was “because [the former policy] conflicts with the definition of “residence” in the INA and also with INA 322(d), which was enacted in 2008 after this policy was instituted, and refers to children who are residing abroad with members of the armed forces of the United States as “residing outside of the United States.”
The statement went on to say that conflicting policies could lead to “inconsistent decisions” regarding citizenship and cause confusion about the date that children station abroad to U.S. service members become citizens of the U.S.
USCIS issued a clarification to the rule later stating, “This policy update does not affect who is born a U.S. citizen, period. This only affects children who were born outside the United States and were not U.S. citizens.” It went on to say, “This does NOT impact birthright citizenship. This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of US government employees or members of the military born abroad. This policy aligns USCIS’ process with the Department of State’s procedure, that’s it.”