New guidance on the residency requirement for certain children of U.S. citizens who are members of the USAF

New Law concerning Citizenship for Children of Military Members and U.S. Government Employees Stationed Overseas

On Sept. 18, 2020, the USCIS updated their policy guidance on residency requirements under Sec. 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to comply with the recently enacted Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act.

Previously, a foreign-born child automatically acquires U.S. citizenship if the child (1) has at least one parent who is a citizen, (2) is less than 18 years old, and (3) is residing in the U.S. in the citizen parent’s legal and physical custody pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence.

Under the new law, a foreign-born child of a U.S. citizen member of the Armed Forces or government employee may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship even if the child is not residing in the U.S. The residency requirement is fulfilled if a foreign-born child is (1) living in the legal and physical custody of the citizen Armed Services member or government employee who has been stationed abroad (or the accompanying spouse of such a citizen), and (2) lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the U.S.

As of March 2020, U.S. citizen parents who are military or U.S. government employees or spouses of the same, and are stationed outside the U.S., can file for a Certificate of Citizenship, for children residing outside the U.S. because their children, if eligible under the new INA 320(c), are exempt from the residency requirement. Upon meeting the requirements and traveling to the U.S. to complete the process, the child will obtain a Certificate of Citizenship.