Citizenship Agency Clarifies Policy Change for Overseas Military Births

‘Frankly, it is hard to explain and deeply worrying…’

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) Children born to military parents overseas won’t automatically be given U.S. citizenship, according to a new policy alert released by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

But following public backlash, USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli underscored that the new application process was mainly formality to ensure the foreign-born children maintain a genuine allegiance to the country.

The rule will primarily affect those born to naturalized U.S. citizens serving in the military who haven’t resided in the country for the required period of time, according to a Department of Defense official. This means that it will impact 20-50 people, if that.

The policy has nothing to do with birthright citizenship, Cuccinelli said.

“The policy update doesn’t deny citizenship to the children of US gov employees or members of the military born abroad. This policy aligns USCIS’ process with the Department of State’s procedures for these children—that’s it. Period,” Cuccinelli continued.

The initial announcement sparked confusion among military groups who believed the rule would be an additional hurdle for their children.

“Military members already have enough to deal with, and the last thing that they should have to do when stationed overseas is go through hoops to ensure their children are U.S. citizens,” said Andy Blevins, executive director of the Modern Military Association of America.


Ken Cuccinelli/Photo by Gage Skidmore (CC)

A Pentagon spokesperson assured military members that the “estimated impact of this particular change is small.”

Still, some worry the change is nothing more than an additional “bureaucratic hurdle” active military members must worry about.

“Forcing [members] to go through bureaucratic hurdles for no apparent reason, just to get their children naturalized as American citizens, does a great disservice to people who have dedicated their lives to serving their country,” Eric Rubin, president of the American Foreign Service Association, wrote on Twitter. “Frankly, it is hard to explain and deeply worrying.”