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ACBA
The state Bar of California
Asian American Bar Association
American Immigration Lawyers Association
ATLA
Expertise
Expertise 2021

Citizenship Changes for Military Kids Spark Concerns

The Trump administration has issued more changes to regulations dealing with immigration and citizenship, raising concerns among many in California. These concerns have been intensified because the changes relate primarily to the kids of members of the U.S. military or government workers serving overseas. In the past, children born to these individuals would automatically acquire citizenship. Their time with their parents, while physically outside the country, was considered U.S. residency for citizenship purposes. Under the new rule, announced by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), these children’s citizenship would no longer be automatic. Their parents would have to engage in additional procedures to secure citizenship for their children.

Critics of the Trump administration and immigration advocates sharply criticized the rule change, noting that it primarily affects people who are already working to serve their country abroad. In addition, many worry that this is an attempt to impair birthright citizenship, a bedrock principle of U.S. immigration law embedded in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. However, the Trump administration said that the change would only affect a small number of individuals.

USCIS said that those who could be affected by the law include parents who adopt a child abroad while serving abroad, parents who are U.S. citizens but never lived in the country themselves, parents who obtained citizenship after the birth of a child or parents who were recently naturalized. Their children could still become citizens, but they would need to get a visa or green card and come to the U.S. to take a citizenship oath.

Ongoing changes to immigration law have sparked concern among many people, including those who have lived in the U.S. for many years. An immigration law attorney could provide advice and guidance on how this policy change and others may affect a person’s immigration status.

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