A new rule changing how Americans serving in the military and other postings abroad pass U.S. citizenship to their children could disproportionately affect LGBT families, advocates are warning, The Hill informs.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the change Wednesday, which sowed confusion and threw immigration law analysts into overdrive.
At its core, the rule tightens of the definition of “residency” that USCIS takes into account when deciding whether Americans overseas can transmit their citizenship to their children.
The measure does not affect natural-born U.S. citizens, including children born overseas to U.S. citizen parents who fulfill the statutory residency requirements. Officials said Thursday the measure is expected to affect between 20 and 25 individuals per year.
But groups that represent LGBTQ military families have expressed concern their community could be disproportionately represented among those affected.
“We are very concerned about how this new policy may affect our LGBTQ service members looking to adopt or use surrogates, sperm or egg donors or IVF,” said Peter Perkowski, legal and policy director at LGBTQ military family advocacy group Modern Military Association of America, who added that they are also concerned about the effects on green card holders.
The measure will also affect the born-abroad children of non-citizen service members who naturalized after they became parents.
“Our nation’s modern military families deserve better than this, and the last thing they should have to worry about is going through extra hoops in order to ensure their children are U.S. citizens,” Perkowski said in a statement. “We continue to urge Congress to look into this new policy and hold this administration accountable.”
The USCIS rule does not change the nature of how citizenship is acquired, nor birthright citizenship as enshrined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, The Hill adds.
Under the new rule, some children of U.S. citizens abroad who were previously eligible to acquire citizenship through derivation, the simpler process of becoming a citizen by virtue of a parent’s nationality, would now have to seek citizenship through naturalization, the process available to foreign nationals without U.S. citizen parents.