U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will change its policy on residence in some cases, which will end automatic U.S. citizenship for some children. The move marks the Trump administration’s continued effort to make it harder for foreign-born individuals to acquire citizenship.
Currently, USCIS considers the children of U.S. service members and government employees residing outside the U.S. as residing in the U.S., making those children automatic U.S. citizens. However, that will no longer be the case starting on October 29, 2019. Children born and living abroad with their parents will no longer be guaranteed U.S. citizenship if their parents are U.S. service members or government employees who have not established residency in the U.S. These parents must apply for citizenship on behalf of their child.
USCIS announced the change in a policy alert issued on August 28. The policy alert aimed to better define residence for purposes of determining citizenship. Moreover, it sought to clarify the distinction between residence and physical presence.
USCIS clarifies that a person born in the U.S. but who has not resided in the U.S. cannot automatically pass on citizenship to his or her children. To transmit U.S. citizenship, the U.S. citizen parent must have established U.S. residence for at least five years before having a child outside the U.S.
To be eligible for naturalization, individuals must have continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years after qualifying for permanent residence (a green card). Moreover, to meet the residency requirement, a U.S. citizen born in the U.S. must show that his or her mother was not simply visiting the U.S. at the time of birth.
USCIS clarifies that residence is a person’s primary and permanent home. Owning and renting property in the U.S. can establish residence in the U.S. However, the person must prove he or she actually lived in the property.
Attendance at school, college, or university in the U.S. may be considered as residing in the U.S. depending on the circumstances. For example, if a student stays continuously in the U.S. for nearly three years.
USCIS noted that individuals living in Canada or Mexico who commute to the U.S. for work cannot count that time as residency.
In the policy alert, USCIS states that physical presence refers to the actual time a person is in the U.S. regardless of whether that person has a residence in the U.S.
Military personnel stationed abroad who return to the U.S. on leave are not considered residing in the U.S. even if they stay at a property they own. USCIS only considers individuals in this situation as physically present in the U.S. USCIS considers vacations, temporary visits or brief stays in the U.S. as physical presence, not residence.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team helps individuals and their families apply for everything from visas to citizenship. We can help you determine the best solution to stay and work in the U.S. Reach out to us to schedule a consultation.