USCIS details overseas naturalization requirements for children

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released details on how certain children of overseas military personnel can obtain US citizenship without being in the United States. The provision was made possible by recent changes to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

In late January of 2008, President Bush signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, which amended Section 322 of the INA to allow certain eligible children of members of the US military to become naturalized US citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the process.

Section 322 covers immigration law concerning the naturalization of children of United States citizens living abroad.

Under normal conditions, for a child to be eligible for overseas naturalization, the child must be younger than 18 years of age, at least one parent must be a US citizen, the child must reside abroad in the physical and legal custody of that parent, and that parent has been physically present in the United States for a certain period of time. In addition, the child must be temporarily present in the United States after lawful admission to complete the citizenship process.

The amendments to Section 322 of the INA change the rules for children of US citizen members of the military who are living with their parent abroad on official orders. The amendments provide that:

  • eligible children are not required to have lawful admission or be present in the United states to complete the citizenship process
  • the US citizen parent may count time spent abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States

The provisions are only available to biological and adopted children of US military personnel -- they are not available to stepchildren.