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Trump Administration Changes Automatic Citizenship For Children Of Service Members Stationed Overseas

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a change to automatic citizenship for children of service members stationed overseas. According to a policy alert from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), children born to service members will not automatically be granted citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).


The United States will “no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship," the alert said. 

According to Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law and an adjunct scholar at the conservative Cato Institute, the policy change means parents have to submit paperwork.

“It’s not denying people citizenship, but it’s making it happen through a process not automatic by the virtue of birth. The parents have to submit paperwork to make their kids citizens," Blackman told POLITICO. “The optics here are pretty awful."

USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli took to Twitter to further clarify the rule change, saying that birthright citizenship isn't impacted:


The change was made because of confusion related to "residency." The USCIS provided the following table as an example of what constitutes physical presence verses residency. 

The rule change doesn't apply to children who obtain their citizenship at birth or while living in America. That includes children born outside of the country as long as their parents resided in the United States within the last five years.

The policy change goes into effect October 29th.

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