Does an International Surrogacy Mean Dual Citizenship for Your Child?
The U.S. State Department has long upheld a policy that denied citizenship to those who were born via surrogacy or IVF (in vitro fertilization), preventing children who were born in this way from obtaining dual citizenship. But now, thanks to the recent update in the department’s policy regarding how they handle these types of cases, it’s now more possible than ever for children who were born with a surrogate parent or in vitro fertilization to become U.S. citizens.
A Highly Restrictive Previous Policy
Previously, State Department policy prevented children born abroad by assisted means — e.g., international surrogacies — to obtain citizenship. The only circumstance that would then allow for the child to become a U.S. citizen is if one of the parents is already a legal citizen and the child is directly related to them. This applied to children who were born outside of the U.S. by way of assisted reproductive methods, most commonly a surrogate or in vitro fertilization, to both heterosexual and same-sex parents.
New Rules More in Touch With Reality
This new policy was announced on May 18, 2021, and it does set some stipulations. In order for your situation to be applicable to this new policy, your child has to have been born outside of the United States, and the parents must be married. Additionally, one or both of the child’s parents must already be a citizen of the U.S., and the child has to be biologically related to one of their parents.
A statement put out by the State Department praised the update to the way that the Immigration and Nationality Act is applied. The department says it’s now considering realistically what the families of today are truly going through. There have also been numerous advancements that have come in technology for assisted reproductive means, changing the way these policies must be thought of and implemented.
These newly-adopted guidelines are effectively a reversal of a long-standing rule that had obvious issues. The previous policy classified any child born through surrogacy outside of the United States as being born out of wedlock, even though the child’s parents were actually married. It was also a requirement of the State Department for children born outside the U.S. to be genetically or gestationally related to the parent who was a U.S. citizen.
A Well-Disputed Old Policy
This has led to a handful of same-sex couples filing lawsuits due to the former policy, fighting for their children’s rights to legal citizenship in the United States. Over the course of two years, two cases were brought and won by parents in this situation against the Trump administration.
In June 2020, a federal judge’s ruling required the State Department to recognize a same-sex couple’s daughter as a legal citizen. She was a year old at the time, born in via surrogacy in Canada.
Another instance of a successful case challenging the old rule, taking the fight to court, involved twin boys. The Canadian-born twins were the children of a same-sex couple, where one of the children was genetically tied to his father, who was a citizen of the United States. This child was granted his citizenship. His twin brother, on the other hand, relationally tied to the father who was born in Israel, was not allowed to become a citizen.
In 2019, the judge presiding over that case made the ruling that this child was, in fact, a U.S. citizen due to the fact that he had married parents. In this case, the ruling was that the State Department hadn’t applied its own law correctly.
A Big Moment for the LGBTQ Community
With the new law, LGBTQ parents are all feeling a momentous breakthrough. It’s a huge win for everyone who’d been fighting back against the State Department’s previous policy, which was dehumanizing, out of touch, and above all, unconstitutional.
Immigration Equality is one of the outstanding LGBTQ immigration rights groups that has brought a number of federal lawsuits that challenge the old rules of the State Department. They work with New Jersey lawyers to help provide what’s best for these children.
This new policy sends a clear message to the public, especially those in LGBTQ communities, that unity and determination are both powerful tools against systemic discrimination. It underlines the idea that families are formed from love, not from genetics.
If you or a loved one are in this type of a situation, call the firm of Cofsky & Zeidman, L.L.C., at (856) 429-5005. Donald Cofsky is a friendly, knowledgeable, and experienced New Jersey lawyer who will guide you through every step of the process to help your child become a dual citizen.