On August 28, 2019, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new policy guidance defining “residence” as it relates to U.S. Citizenship.
The new policy guidance clarifies what it means to “reside in the United States” for the purpose of acquiring citizenship and sets out new policy guidelines as it relates to the acquisition of citizenship of children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members employed or stationed outside the United States.
Effective October 29, 2019, children residing abroad with their U.S. citizen parents (who are U.S. government employees or members of the U.S. armed forces stationed abroad) will not be considered to be residing in the United States for acquisition of citizenship. Similarly, leave taken in the United States while stationed abroad is not considered residing in the United States even if the person is staying in property he or she owns.
Therefore, 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, by filing Form N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 and must complete the process before the child’s 18th birthday.
The child of a member of the U.S. armed forces accompanying his or her parent abroad on official orders may be eligible to complete all aspects of the naturalization proceedings abroad. This includes interviews, filings, oaths, ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to naturalization.
A U.S. Spokesperson has stated that, “Certain children of U.S. service members may complete the process outside of the United States without having to travel to the United States. However, children of U.S. government employees must enter the U.S. lawfully with an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa and be in lawful status when they take the oath of allegiance, which completes the process.”
Applications filed on or after October 29, 2019 are subject to this new policy. The policy in place before October 29, 2019 applies to applications filed before that date. Children who have already been recognized through the issuance of a Certificate of Citizenship as having acquired U.S. citizenship under INA 320 are not affected by this policy change
Who does the Policy affect?
- children of non-U.S. citizens adopted by U.S. citizen employees or service members;
- children of non-U.S. citizen parents who become citizens after the child’s birth; and
- children of U.S. citizens who do not meet residency requirements to transmit citizenship to their children at birth.
Who does the Policy not affect?
The policy DOES NOT affect children who are citizens at birth or who have already acquired citizenship prior to October 29, 2019.
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