The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says children of U.S. service members and other government employees born abroad will no longer have automatic citizenship status. The agency says the new policy will go into effect Oct. 29.

The policy applies to children who are born in U.S. military hospitals located outside the country, and to children of government employees and military members who are serving abroad.

Parents must apply for citizenship for foreign-born children

Up until the new policy goes into effect, children born to U.S. citizens in foreign countries have been automatically granted citizenship status under the Immigration Nationality Act 320 (INA 320). Parents will now have to apply for citizenship for their children ahead of their 18th birthday.

The new rules mean children of government employees living abroad must undergo a more complicated and rigorous naturalization process. The USCIS says to obtain citizenship, a parent with U.S. citizenship status must apply on the child’s behalf using Form N-600K, proving that they meet the new requirements.

Exceptions are allowed under the new policy

The USCIS released a fact sheet outlining some exceptions. The policy won’t affect children under the following circumstances:

  • Those whose parents are both U.S. citizens, with at least one parent who resided in the U.S. or its territories before the child was born
  • Those with two married parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen who was “physically present” in the U.S. or is territories for at least five years, with two of those years after the age of 14
  • Those with unmarried parents, one of whom has citizenship status and meets the requirements of U.S. statute INA 309
  • Those eligible for U.S. citizenship status at birth
  • Those living in the U.S. with their citizen parent after being approved for permanent residence

Know your rights under U.S. immigration laws

Immigration is a complicated and stressful process in the U.S. An experienced immigration attorney here in Illinois, who is well-versed in the rules and can answer your questions, will help you fill out the correct paperwork and guide you through the entire process helping to ease the transition for you and your family.