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USCIS: Statement Regarding a Policy Update Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship


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Statement Regarding a Policy Update Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship

Today, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement regarding a policy update Defining “Residence”in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship.

“This policy update does not affect who is born a U.S. citizen, period.  This only affects children who were born outside the United States and were not U.S. citizens.  This does NOT impact birthright citizenship.  This policy update does not deny citizenship to the children of US government employees or members of the military born abroad.  This policy aligns USCIS’ process with the Department of State’s procedure, that’s it.”


Last Reviewed/Updated: 08/28/2019






USCIS Policy Manual Update

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues policy guidance on “residence” requirements for acquiring citizenship

Release Date: Aug. 28, 2019

Introduction

Our latest update to the USCIS Policy Manual defines “residence” as it relates to citizenship for children of certain U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. armed forces who are employed or stationed outside the United States, to conform with the definition of residence in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This guidance rescinds previously established USCIS policy, which stated that certain children who were living outside the United States were considered “residing in” the United States.

As a result, it changes the process that parents of such children must follow to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship for their children. Under the previous policy, parents of those children could file either Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship, or Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322, on behalf of their children. As of Oct. 29, 2019, these parents must file Form N-600K to obtain U.S. citizenship for any child who did not acquire citizenship at birth or while residing in the United States. Therefore, we will apply current guidance to all applications filed before Oct. 29, 2019.

Policy Update at a Glance

The updates to the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 12, Citizenship and Naturalization, and Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens:

  • Clarify that temporary visits to the U.S. do not establish U.S. residence;
  • Explain the distinction between residence and physical presence in the United States; and
  • Explain that USCIS no longer considers children who are living abroad with a parent who is a U.S. government employee or U.S. service member as “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.

How Children Acquire Citizenship

U.S. laws allow children to acquire U.S. citizenship other than through birth in the United States. Children who were born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen parent or parents may acquire U.S. citizenship at birth under INA 301 or 309. Children may also acquire citizenship after birth, but before the age of 18, through their U.S. citizen parent(s) under INA 320.

Policy Update Regarding Children of U.S. Government Employees or Service Members Employed or Stationed Abroad Who Were Born Outside the United States

Who This Policy Update Affects

This policy may affect children residing outside the United States who were born outside the United States to:

  • Non-U.S. citizen parents and adopted by a U.S. citizen U.S. government employee or U.S. service member after their birth;
  • Non-U.S. citizen parents, such as a lawful permanent resident U.S. government employee or U.S. service member who naturalized only after the child’s birth; or
  • Two U.S. citizen government employee or U.S. service member parents who do not meet the residence or physical presence requirements to transmit citizenship to their child at birth (or one non-U.S. citizen parent and one U.S. citizen parent who does not meet these requirements). 

For more information on this policy update contact uscispolicymanual@uscis.dhs.gov. For case-specific inquiries, call theUSCIS Contact Center.

Who This Policy Update Does Not Affect

This policy does not affect children born outside the United States who were citizens at birth or who have already acquired citizenship, including children who:

  • Were born to two U.S. citizen parents, at least one of whom has had a residence in the United States or one of its outlying possessions before the child’s birth;
  • Were born to married parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen and one a foreign national, if the U.S. citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. or one of its outlying possessions for at least five years, at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old;
  • Were born to unmarried parents, one of whom is a U.S. citizen and one a foreign national, if the U.S. citizen parent meets the requirements listed in INA 309;
  • Are otherwise eligible to receive a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) or a Certificate of Citizenship documenting U.S. citizenship acquired at birth; or
  • Are residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of their U.S. citizen parent after being lawfully admitted to the U.S. for permanent residence.

For more information, see Policy Manual, Volume 12, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 3, United States Citizens at Birth (INA 301 and 309), or email uscispolicymanual@uscis.dhs.gov.

Reason for the Policy Update

We are updating this policy because it conflicts with the definition of “residence” in the INA and also with INA 322(d), which was enacted in 2008 after this policy was instituted, and refers to children who are residing abroad with members of the armed forces of the United States as “residing outside of the United States.” In addition, the previous guidance conflicts with Department of State guidance. Having conflicting policies can lead to inconsistent decisions on citizenship claims by USCIS and the Department of State and can cause confusion as to the date children of U.S. service members and government employees stationed abroad become U.S. citizens.

General Provisions for Eligibility

The table below serves as a quick reference guide to certain residence, physical presence, and overseas naturalization provisions for children of U.S. citizen service members. A person eligible under INA 320 would file Form N-600, and a parent filing for a child under 18 residing outside of the United States would file Form N-600K.

Residence, Lawful Admission, and Overseas Naturalization for Children of Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

INA Section

Place of ResidenceLawful AdmissionResidence Requirement

Automatic Citizenship

or Overseas Naturalization

320United StatesThe child must be lawfully admitted for permanent residence.The child must reside with U.S. citizen parent in the United States.The child may acquire automatic citizenship (must take the Oath of Allegiance in the United States to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship).
322(d)Outside the United StatesLawful admission is not required for the child.The child must reside with U.S. citizen parent serving abroad.The parent must apply for citizenship, but the child may complete the entire naturalization process from outside the United States if they are authorized to accompany their U.S. citizen parent who is on official military orders (the child must take the Oath of Allegiance before their 18th birthday, unless we waive this requirement during an interview).

When a Parent Should Not File Form N-600K

U.S. government employees and U.S. service members who are employed or stationed outside the United States should not file Form N-600K if:

  • The child has already acquired citizenship under INA sections 301, 309, or 320, or on or before Feb. 27, 2001, under the repealed INA section 321;
  • They are a U.S. citizen whose only relationship to the child is as a stepparent;
  • They are not the U.S. citizen parent of the child, unless that parent has died; or
  • The child is over the age of 18.

The chart below provides additional examples of when parents should or should not file Form N-600K.

If the child is residing outside the United States and:Then:

The child is born to two U.S. citizen parents on a military base or at an off-base hospital outside of the United States

The parents can apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) with the Department of State or a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS using Form N-600. At least one parent must prove residence in the U.S. before the child’s birth. The parent should not file Form N-600K.

See the Department of State Birth of U.S. Citizens Abroad webpage for more information

The child is born to two lawful permanent resident (LPR) parents on a military base or at an off-base hospital outside of the United States

At least one parent must naturalize before the child is eligible to acquire citizenship. The U.S. citizen parent must establish five years of physical presence in the United States (at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old) before the parent may file an N-600K on the child’s behalf.  

However, in the case of a child of a U.S. service member who is residing abroad on their parent’s official military orders, the parent can count any period of time residing abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.

See our website for more information.

The child is born in wedlock to a U.S. citizen parent and an LPR parent on a military base or at an off-base hospital outside of the United States on or after Nov. 14, 1986

The U.S. citizen parent must prove physical presence in the United States for a period of not less than five years (at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old). However, the U.S. citizen parent can count any of the following periods as physical presence in the United States:

  • Honorable service in the U.S. armed forces;
  • Employment with the U.S. government or certain international organizations; or
  • Being physically present abroad as the dependent unmarried son or daughter of:
    • A service member honorably serving in the U.S. military;
    • A U.S. government employee; or
    • An employee of a qualifying international organization.

If the parent meets the physical presence requirement, they can apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) with the Department of State or a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS using Form N-600. The parent should not file Form N-600K.

The child was born to an LPR parent who then naturalizes after the birth of the child

The U.S. citizen parent must establish five years of physical presence in the United States (at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old) before they may file an N-600K on the child’s behalf.

However, in the case of a child of a U.S. service member who is residing abroad with them on their official orders, the parent can count any period of time residing abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.

The child is living on a military base outside of the United States when their parent(s) naturalize on that military base

The U.S. citizen parent must establish five years of physical presence in the United States (at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old) before the parent may file an N-600K on the child’s behalf.

However, in the case of a child of a U.S. service member who is residing abroad with them on their official orders, the parent can count any period of time residing abroad on official orders as physical presence in the United States.

See our website for more information.

  • The child was born outside of the United States;
  • The child later becomes an LPR and resides in the United States in the legal and physical custody of their parents when one of them naturalizes in the United States; and
  • The child subsequently resides outside of the United States with the parents

The child became a U.S. citizen upon the parent’s naturalization. The family may file an N-600 for the child, but must return to the United States for an interview to obtain the Certificate of Citizenship.  The family may also apply for a passport for the child from the Department of State from outside of the United States. The parent should not file Form N-600K.

The child is the stepchild of the U.S. citizen service member and a biological  child of an LPR parent

The U.S. citizen service member must adopt the child before the child could qualify for citizenship through the stepparent. Or, once the LPR parent naturalizes and establishes five years of physical presence (at least two of which were after they turned 14 years old), they can file Form N-600K for the child.

See our website for more information.

Important Facts to Know

  • Military bases outside of the United States are not considered “in the United States” in relation to birthright citizenship. Therefore, the only way children born abroad can acquire citizenship at birth is through their parents.
  • If you were a U.S. citizen when you gave birth to your child while outside the United States on military orders, your child is most likely a U.S. citizen. As long as you met certain physical presence or residence requirements before your child’s birth, this policy update does not affect you, and you can apply for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) for your child at a U.S. Consulate and/or a Certificate of Citizenship from USCIS using Form N-600.
  • Military members stationed outside the United States who file a Form N-600K on behalf of their child will not need to travel to the United States to get a Certificate of Citizenship for their child.
  • Stepchildren cannot acquire U.S. citizenship through a U.S. citizen stepparent. A stepchild is ineligible for citizenship or naturalization through the U.S. citizen stepparent, unless the stepchild is adopted and the adoption meets certain requirements (See Policy Manual Chapter 2, Definition of Child for Citizenship and Naturalization, Section C, Adopted Child).





7/30/2019

USCIS Announces Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Opportunities

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today it is accepting applications for two funding opportunities under the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program that will provide up to $10 million in grants for citizenship preparation programs in communities across the country.

These competitive grant opportunities are open to organizations that prepare lawful permanent residents for naturalization and promote civic assimilation through increased knowledge of English, U.S. history, and civics.

USCIS seeks to expand availability of high-quality citizenship and assimilation services throughout the country with these two grant opportunities:

  •  Citizenship Instruction and Naturalization Application Services. (PDF) This grant opportunity will fund up to 36 organizations that offer both citizenship instruction and naturalization application services to lawful permanent residents. Applications are due by Aug. 13, 2019. 
  • The Refugee and Asylee Assimilation Program. (PDF) This grant opportunity will fund up to four organizations to provide individualized services to lawful permanent residents who entered the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program or were granted asylum. These services will help them to obtain the skills and knowledge required for successful citizenship and to foster a sense of belonging and attachment to the United States. This grant strives to promote long-term civic assimilation of those lawful permanent residents who have identified naturalization as a goal, yet may need additional information, instruction and services to attain it. Applications are due by Aug. 13, 2019. 

USCIS will take into account various program and organizational factors, including past grantee performance, when making final award decisions. In addition, all funded grant recipients must enroll in E-Verify as a regular employer within 30 days of receiving the award and remain as a participant in good standing with E-Verify throughout the entire period of grant performance. Funded grant recipients will be required to verify all new hires at hiring locations performing work on a program or activity that is funded in whole or in part under the grant. 

USCIS expects to announce award recipients in September.

Since it began in 2009, the USCIS Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program has awarded approximately $82 million through 393 grants to immigrant-serving organizations in 38 states and the District of Columbia. 

To apply for one of these funding opportunities, visit grants.gov. For additional information on the Citizenship and Assimilation Grant Program for fiscal year 2019, visit uscis.gov/grants or email the USCIS Office of Citizenship atcitizenshipgrantprogram@uscis.dhs.gov.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), and Facebook (/uscis).



Last Reviewed/Updated: 07/30/2019






4/12/2019

USCIS Strengthens Guidance for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors


WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced additional guidance (PDF, 222 KB) regarding the adjudication of spousal petitions involving minors, following up on the agency’s February update to its policy.

The guidance, published as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), instructs officers to conduct an additional interview for certain I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. Generally, the bona fides of the spousal relationship are assessed in person by USCIS when the alien spouse applies to adjust status, or by the Department of State when the alien spouse applies for an immigrant visa. However, I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor party warrant special consideration due to the vulnerabilities associated with marriage involving a minor. As such, USCIS is modifying its policy to require in-person interviews at this earlier stage for certain I-130 petitions involving minor spouses.

“As part of our continued efforts to strengthen guidance for spousal petitions involving minors, we have instructed USCIS officers to conduct an additional in-person interview earlier in the immigration process for certain petitions that warrant additional scrutiny,” said USCIS Director L. Francis Cissna. “While USCIS has taken action to the maximum extent possible to detect and closely examine spousal petitions involving a minor spouse, Congress should address this issue by providing more clarity under the law for USCIS officers.”




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Interviewing earlier at the I-130 petition stage provides USCIS with an additional opportunity to verify information contained in the petition and assess the bona fides of the claimed spousal relationship. USCIS officers will now conduct interviews for the following I-130 spousal petitions as part of the adjudication of any I-130 spousal petition where:

  • The petitioner or the beneficiary is less than 16 years old; or
  • The petitioner or the beneficiary is 16 or 17 years old and there are 10 years or more difference between the ages of the spouses.

While there are no statutory age requirements to petition for a spouse or be sponsored as a spousal beneficiary, USCIS published guidance earlier this year detailing factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. USCIS considers whether the age of the beneficiary or petitioner at the time the marriage was celebrated violates the law of the place of celebration. Officers also consider whether the marriage is recognized as valid in the U.S. state where the couple currently resides or will presumably reside and does not violate the state’s public policy. In some U.S. states and in some foreign countries, marriage involving a minor might be permitted under certain circumstances, including where there is parental consent, a judicial order, emancipation of the minor, or pregnancy of the minor.



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In addition, per regulation, USCIS may use its discretion to issue a request for evidence (RFE) where appropriate.  As with any benefit, the burden is generally on the petitioner to demonstrate the validity of their petition and the bona fides of their spousal relationship.

These AFM updates are part of USCIS’ continuing efforts to ensure that our policies and processes remain current and are compliant with existing immigration law. USCIS also created a flagging system that sends an alert in an electronic system at the time of filing if a minor spouse or fiancé is detected. After the initial flag, the petition is sent to a special unit that verifies that the age and relationship listed are correct before the petition is accepted. If the age or classification on the petition is incorrect, the petition will be returned to the petitioner for correction.

For more information on USCIS and our programs, please visit uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), Instagram (/uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook (/uscis), and Linkedin (/uscis).







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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, April 12, 2019

Medicare Advantage Provider to Pay $30 Million to Settle Alleged Overpayment of Medicare Advantage Funds

Sutter Health LLC, a California-based healthcare services provider, and several affiliated entities, Sutter East Bay Medical Foundation, Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation, Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, and Sutter Medical Foundation, have agreed to pay $30 million to resolve allegations that the affiliated entities submitted inaccurate information about the health status of beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans, which resulted in the plans and providers being overpaid, the Justice Department announced today.  Sutter Health is headquartered in Sacramento, California. 

“The Medicare Advantage Program provides benefits to a significant portion of federal health care beneficiaries,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will help ensure that accurate information is supplied to the Medicare Advantage Program by plans and providers, and to pursue appropriate remedies when it is not.”

Under Medicare Advantage, also known as the Medicare Part C program, Medicare beneficiaries have the option of enrolling in managed healthcare insurance plans called Medicare Advantage Plans (“MA Plans”) that are owned and operated by private Medicare Advantage Organizations (“MAOs”).  MA Plans are paid a capitated, or per-person, amount to provide Medicare-covered benefits to beneficiaries who enroll in one of their plans.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”), which oversees the Medicare program, adjusts the payments to MA Plans based on demographic information and the health status of each plan beneficiary.  The adjustments are commonly referred to as “risk scores.”  In general, a beneficiary with more severe diagnoses will have a higher risk score, and CMS will make a larger risk-adjusted payment to the MA Plan for that beneficiary.



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Sutter Health, a non-profit public benefit corporation that provides healthcare services through its affiliates, including hospitals and medical foundations, contracted with certain MAOs to provide healthcare services to California beneficiaries enrolled in the MAOs’ MA Plans.  In exchange, Sutter received a share of the payments that the MAOs received from CMS for the beneficiaries under Sutter’s care.  

Sutter submitted diagnoses to the MAOs for the MA Plan enrollees that they treated.  The MAOs, in turn, submitted the diagnosis codes to CMS from the beneficiaries’ medical encounters, such as office visits and hospital stays.  The diagnosis codes were used in CMS’ calculation of a risk score for each beneficiary. 

The settlement announced today resolves allegations that Sutter and its affiliates submitted unsupported diagnosis codes for certain patient encounters of beneficiaries under their care.  These unsupported diagnosis scores inflated the risk scores of these beneficiaries, resulting in the MAO plans being overpaid.



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Earlier this month, the government filed a complaint against Sutter and a separate affiliated entity, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, alleging that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting unsupported diagnosis scores. That case is captioned United States ex rel. Ormsby v. Sutter Health, et al., Case No. 15-CV-01062-JD (N.D. Cal.), and is still ongoing.  

“Misrepresenting patients’ risk results in higher payments and wasted Medicare funds,” said Steven J. Ryan, Special Agent in Charge with the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “With some one-third of people in Medicare now enrolled in managed care Advantage plans, large health systems such as Sutter can expect a thorough investigation of claimed enrollees’ health status.”

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, and HHS-OIG.      

The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability. 












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