Child Born Outside US Out of Wedlock Acquisition of US Citizenship Update

The USCIS Policy Manual has been updated to clarify certain requirements for acquisition of U.S. citizenship for children born outside the United States and out of wedlock under sections 301 and 309 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The Policy Alert is available here:

  • Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 3, U.S. Citizens at Birth (INA 301 and 309) (Final date for comments: May 1, 2018)
  • Explains that Sessions v. Morales-Santana applies the physical presence requirement (at least 5 years, of which at least 2 years must be after age 14) in INA 301(g) to all cases involving a child born out of wedlock to one U.S. citizen parent and one foreign national parent outside of the United States on or after June 12, 2017, regardless of whether the child seeks to derive citizenship from a U.S. citizen mother or U.S. citizen father.
  • Explains that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sessions v. Morales-Santana increases the physical presence requirement (from 1 continuous year to at least 5 years, of which at least 2 years must be after age 14) in INA 309(c) in cases involving a child born out of wedlock outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen mother and a foreign national father on or after June 12, 2017. The physical presence requirement of 1 continuous year in INA 309(c) remains in effect in such cases where the child was born prior to that date.
  • Provides additional guidance in the USCIS nationality charts for cases involving two U.S. citizen parents whose child was born abroad out of wedlock, where the father does not satisfy the requirements of INA 309(a).
  • Clarifies that the statutory phrase "has agreed in writing to provide financial support" under INA 309 includes documentary evidence existing before the child's 18th birthday that shows the child's father accepted the legal obligation to support the child.7
  • Explains that a separate agreement or contract is not required for the father to satisfy the requirement under INA 309(a)(3) in cases where there is documentary evidence showing the child's father accepted the legal obligation to support the child (before age 18) or the obligation to provide such support was imposed on the father by a court of competent jurisdiction or an administrative governmental agency empowered to adjudicate such issues.
  • Incorporates technical and editorial changes in the USCIS nationality charts including, for example, legal citations, adding the applicable definition of child, and revising the residence requirements in accordance with Sessions v. Morales-Santana.