What You Need to Know About the New USCIS Rules
There are roughly 9 million U.S. citizens currently living abroad. Typically, they are able to transfer their citizenship to any children they have, but things get a little more complicated when reproductive assistance is involved. Fortunately, a recent update from USCIS makes it much easier for parents to give their child U.S. citizenship.
USCIS Announces Changes to Citizenship Rules for Children Born Abroad
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is typically responsible for handling citizenship matters for children born in other countries. Previously, their rules allowed biological children of U.S. citizens or step-children of U.S. citizens to gain citizenship. However, the rules were a little vague, so it left some children in a legal gray area.
A few months ago, USCIS updated its rules to clarify that children born of assisted reproductive technology (ART) can also apply for citizenship. As long as the U.S. citizen is married to the child’s genetic or gestational parent, they can transfer citizenship to that child. This allows families to give their child citizenship even if the child was conceived through sperm donors, surrogate pregnancies, or other ART means.
What the New Rules Will Mean for International Families
This new rule will simplify the citizenship application process for international families. Before the update, parents of children conceived with ART could usually only get their child citizenship if they formally adopted the child. This added extra paperwork and visits with New Jersey adoption lawyers when parents were trying to visit the United States or ensure their child has all the rights of a U.S. citizen. Many struggled because their country of residency counted them as a legal parent, but the U.S. saw them as neither a step-parent, adoptive parent, or biological parent.
With this new rule, non-traditional parents will have the same rights as other biological parents. For example, if a woman used donor sperm because her husband was sterile, the husband could still transfer his American citizenship to his child. The new rule just requires that the U.S. citizen be married to the person who carried the child or contributed genetic material to the child. As long as they meet this requirement, they can apply for naturalization and transmit their citizenship to their child.
How to Confirm Your Child’s Citizenship
If your family was created through ART, now is a great time to start formalizing their citizenship. If you’re abroad, try to visit the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible to file a Consular Report of Birth Abroad. This doesn’t start the official immigration process, but it makes the rest of the process easier.
When your child is born abroad and lives abroad, they don’t automatically get to come and go from the United States as they please. Instead, you will still need to undergo a brief version of the immigration process. This doesn’t require extensive documentation, tests, or waiting periods. Instead, it’s just a simple formality to legally recognize that your child is a U.S. citizen.
You’ll need to submit some documentation to show that your child is eligible for naturalization. Here are some of the things you will need to do:
- Show that the child is your legal child in your current jurisdiction.
- Provide the child’s birth certificate or other proof of identification.
- Confirm you are married to the child’s genetic or gestational parent.
- Give evidence of your own U.S. citizenship.
- Show that at least one parent has proof of residency or continual presence in the U.S.
If you think the new USCIS rules will affect your family, consult with a New Jersey adoption lawyer. Cofsky & Zeidman is happy to examine your situation and help you figure out how to get your child citizenship. We have offices in Haddonfield and Woodbury, and our team assists with a variety of adoptions and assisted reproduction situations. Schedule a free consultation by calling 856-429-5005 or filling out our contact form.