New U.S. Citizenship Rules
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
The United States is finally catching up with surrogacy, at least in some respects. The U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) finally revised its policy under the Immigration and Nationality Act for the U. S. citizenship of children born outside the U. S. The policy expands the definitions of “mother” and “parent” to include a person who has no genetic relationship to the child but is nevertheless the legal parent. The definitions were necessarily expanded to include women who use assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as achieving pregnancy with the assistance of an egg donor. The policy is found here: http://www.uscis.gov/us-citizenship/citizenship-through-parents
The revised policy was formulated through the collaboration of the USCIS and the Department of State to include any mother who gave birth to the child and was the child’s legal mother at the time of birth under the law of the relevant jurisdiction.
Under this new policy, the mother may: petition for the child’s U. S. citizenship, based on the mother-child relationship; be eligible for the child to petition for the mother, based on their mother-child relationship; transmit U. S. citizenship to the child, if the mother is a U. S. citizen and all other applicable citizenship requirements are met.
The new policy has its detractors, of course. Some believe that the new policy allows the surrogate industry to sell U. S. citizenship to foreign parents who never enter the United States, then pocket the profits from finagling access to our welfare system, education, health and retirement benefits. Others believe that U. S. surrogate mothers may demand higher fees from foreign parents because the babies will be U. S. citizens. Still others believe the law is unnecessary.
The new policy acknowledges the reality of modern assisted reproductive technology, which has and will be used by tens (or hundreds?) of thousands of U. S. citizens. It was published in late October 2014 and I have not seen pro-ART reactions to the new policy; however, I anticipate applause by the surrogacy industry and ART-assisted parents & children.
By Kathy Catanzarite
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