Here is a recent CNN Headline: “Citizenship will no longer be automatic for children of some US military members living overseas”. Reading this headline; I immediately think, if I am stationed outside the U.S. and have a child are they a U.S. citizen?
All this confusion comes from a Policy Alert, dated August 28, 2019 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Basically it is policy guidance to clarify requirements for residence in statutory provisions related to citizenship regarding children of U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. Armed Forces employed or stationed outside the United States. In layman’s terms, it affects a small number of children who are born to naturalized U.S. citizens who have not lived in the United States for a required period of time.
After realizing this new policy doesn’t affect the majority of military service members and their families who are stationed overseas it did make me wonder how the process works if you have a child while stationed outside the county. There are three ways you can become a U.S. citizen: naturalization which is becoming a citizen after birth, born on U.S. soil or birth to parents who are U.S. citizens. A few things you need to know if having a child outside the country.
- Contrary to popular belief, a U.S. military base outside the country is not considered U.S. soil for citizenship purposes.
- The only way a child born outside of the U.S. can become a citizen is through their parents.
- If your child is born in a military hospital overseas or in a foreign hospital, you will receive a birth certificate but these are not valid for obtaining a U.S. passport.
- It is important that you register the birth with the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you are stationed in. This requires an application and documents proving the parents’ citizenship as well as the paperwork from the military or foreign hospital recording the birth. You will receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad which proves your child’s citizenship and is valid for obtaining a U.S. passport
You may wonder if there are any benefits to making your child a dual citizen of the foreign country you are stationed in. This is something that should be carefully considered. Many countries have mandatory military service or income tax that you would not want to inflict on your child. It may make sense if one of the parents were from a foreign country. In these circumstances it would be worth it to speak to an immigration attorney.
An an interesting note this topic came up during the last election regarding whether Sen. Ted Cruz, was eligible to become President because he was born in Canada to a U.S. citizen Mom and a Father who was born in Cuba. He gained citizenship through his Mother and is consider a “natural born” citizen meaning he held citizenship from birth which is the requirement to become President.
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com