On September 18, USCIS updated their policy guidance about residency requirements under section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This was done to meet the requirements of the recently enacted Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act.
This new guidance states that a child born outside the United States acquires automatic citizenship under INA 320, even if they are residing outside the country, when the child is a lawful permanent resident and in the custody of their U.S. citizen parent who meets one of the following criteria:
- Stationed and residing outside the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces
- Stationed and residing outside of the United States as an employee of the U.S. government
- The spouse residing outside the United States in a marital union with a U.S. armed forces member or U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States
The child is also required to meet all generally applicable requirements for automatic acquisition of citizenship under INA 320(a) and (b), except for the residency requirement. In cases of U.S. armed forces members, the child and the U.S. citizen parent must be authorized to accompany and reside abroad with them pursuant to the member’s official orders. In addition to this, the new law reverses the policy change issued by USCIS in August 2019 to agree with existing State Department policy and federal law.
As of March 26, 2020, U.S. citizen parents and military/government employees or their spouses, stationed outside of the country, can file Form N-600. This is the Application for Certificate of Citizenship. This is filed for their children residing outside the U.S. because the child, if eligible under the new INA 320(c), are exempt from the residency requirement. When all requirements are met and they complete the process by traveling to the country, the child can receive their Certificate of Citizenship. This applies to eligible children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.
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