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A policy change has been announced by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which could make it more difficult for the children of serving overseas American military and diplomatic personnel to obtain US Citizenship. The change, which was confirmed in a memo yesterday (August 28), will become policy on October 29, 2019.
In the memo, USCIS explain that the change relates to the status of children of "US Government Employees and Members of the Armed Forces Employed or Stationed Aboard." At present, children born outside of the United States to serving overseas US Government Employees and Members of the Armed Forces are considered to be both "residing in the United States" and "residing outside of the United States" in order to make it simpler for US Citizenship to be obtained.
Explaining the decision to change policy, USCIS wrote that "as of October 29, 2019, USCIS is no longer committed to this reasoning because the prior USCIS policy guidance is in conflict with several provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), especially with changes to the acquisition of citizenship statutes that occurred in 2008, after the initial policy determination in 2004."
Responding to the change, Andy Blevin, Executive Director of the Modern Military Association of America, expressed concern, explaining that "Military members already have enough to deal with, and the last thing that they should have to do when stationed overseas is go through hoops to ensure their children are US citizens."
Eric Rubin, President of the American Foreign Service Association, responded by saying "Our members serve across the globe in the most difficult places, exposing their family members to danger, disease and other hardships. It does not seem too much to ask that their children born overseas, along with children of our military members serving overseas, are recognized as Americans, as they have been for decades. Forcing them to go through bureaucratic hurdles for no apparent reason, just to get their children naturalized as American citizens, does a great disservice to people who have dedicated their lives to serving their country. Frankly it is hard to explain and deeply worrying."
Speaking to CNN, one Navy officer said "You should go onto a spouse Facebook page and see the freakouts", highlighting the major concern this change has created for serving personnel.
We'll keep you updated on developments as they occur with this policy change. If you're affected by this decision and would like to submit a comment, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Full details on the policy change can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/policymanual/updates/20190828-ResidenceForCitizenship.pdf
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