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Trump Administration Changes Citizenship Requirements for Children of Service Members and Government Employees Overseas

A baby holds a U.S. flag at a naturalization ceremony for new citizens in Washington, D.C., in 2016. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

The Trump administration announced Wednesday that the children of some U.S. service members and government employees stationed overseas will no longer be granted automatic U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. “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” under the Immigration and Nationality Act, according to a policy update from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The new rules will not apply to children who obtain U.S. citizenship at birth or while living in the U.S., including children born out of the country but whose parents have resided in the U.S. within the past five years, the USCIS said.

The non-citizen children of parents who are U.S. citizens residing outside the country must now complete the process of naturalization before they turn 18.

The USCIS said it is altering the policy due to conflicting definitions of what “residence” in the U.S. means.

The Defense Department said that the “estimated impact of this particular change is small,” but Democrats immediately lambasted the administration’s move, warning that it could lead to an end to birthright citizenship as well.

“This move by the administration will make it harder for Americans serving our country overseas to have families,” Representative Val Demings, a Florida Democrat, said. “This also appears to be an initial step towards ending birthright citizenship, something which the president has threatened to do—and which would be unconstitutional.”

The policy will go into effect on October 29.

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