New citizenship rule affects children born abroad to U.S. citizen mothers

by Immigration attorney Caroly Pedersen

visas

In accordance with a recent Supreme Court ruling, the USCIS has updated its policy requirements to restrict automatic citizenship for certain children born abroad to unwed U.S. Citizen mothers.

The new restriction provides that children born abroad to an unwed U.S. Citizen mother, can only acquire U.S. Citizenship automatically if the U.S. Citizen mother, prior to the child’s birth, had lived in the U.S. for at least five years, two years of which must have been after the age of 14.

This rule has been in effect for married couples and unwed U.S. Citizen fathers for some time. Under the prior rule, the law gave preferential treatment to a child born to an unwed U.S. Citizen mother, requiring only that she had lived in the U.S. for at least one continuous year before the child’s birth.

In the recent Supreme Court case which changed the law, Sessions v. Morales-Santana, the court ruled that giving preferential treatment to U.S. Citizen mothers is unconstitutional and that the preferential treatment would end on June 12, 2017. As a result,  children born outside the U.S. to unwed U.S. Citizen mothers on or after June 12, 2017 will only obtain automatic U.S. Citizenship if the U.S. Citizen mother, prior to the child’s birth, had lived in the U.S. for at least five years, two years of which must have been after the age of 14.

The new USCIS policy also clarifies requirements for unwed U.S. Citizen fathers, providing that  in order for their children born abroad to be eligible to obtain automatic U.S. Citizenship, they must provide proof that they agreed in writing to provide financial support to the child before the child’s 18th birthday.  

 

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