Sept. 22 (UPI) — Military children who are not American citizens will be able to obtain citizenship automatically, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced.
The Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act, passed by Congress in March and implemented this month, grants automatic citizenship to military children who are living with an American parent stationed overseas and to children whose parents are U.S. government employees living overseas.
It’s a reversal of a policy implemented in 2019 that forced military families to file new paperwork and pay additional fees to gain citizenship for some children of service members born overseas.
Children born abroad to U.S. citizens are considered citizens at birth, but legal permanent U.S. residents serve in the military, and it is not uncommon for military members serving abroad to adopt children born in their host country while living overseas.
The 2019 policy affected children born overseas to or adopted by permanent legal residents — about two dozen of whom are born each year — saying they would not be considered residents of the United States.
It also included conflicting rules about the definition of “residence,” causing widespread confusion about who was affected.
“Forcing military families to jump through bureaucratic hoops and spend hundreds of dollars applying for citizenship on behalf of their children was not right, which is why I’m glad that this bipartisan bill to ensure that children of U.S. servicemembers and civil servants abroad automatically gain citizenship is now in effect,” said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who introduced the bill last October.
Children of green card holders must still apply for citizenship.
The new policy change applies to children who were younger than 18 years old on March 26, according to USCIS.