There are many ways to make a family, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) took a big step last month in recognizing that. The USCIS announced that it was updating its guidance on babies conceived using Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and born outside the U.S. to married couples where one only parent is a U.S. citizen.
Prior to the policy change, the U.S. citizen parent had to be the child’s genetic or gestational parent. That meant that if the parent who carried the child was not a U.S. citizen or only the non-citizen parent was biologically related to the child, the baby born outside the U.S. wasn’t recognized as a U.S. citizen even though they had a parent who was one.
This policy most often affected same-sex married couples using ART to conceive a child. However, the policy impacted any couple where the U.S. citizen parent couldn’t genetically contribute to or carry a child.
USCIS change follows State Department revision, lawsuits
The change made by the USCIS follows closely behind a similar change to a policy announced by the State Department decades before ART was possible. It also comes after several federal lawsuits brought by same-sex couples over the fact that some parents’ U.S. citizenship couldn’t be transmitted to their children. Those suits were fought by the previous administration.
The head of Immigration Equality, an LGBTQ immigrant rights group, called the USCIS policy change “an important step in overcoming the federal government’s previous archaic, narrow and unlawful definition of what a family is.”
As the government works to catch up to 21st century reproductive technology and the laws that have expanded the definition of “marriage” and “family,” you may benefit from legal guidance in asserting you and your family’s immigration and citizenship rights.