US State Dept. to recognize birthright citizenship of children born abroad if at least 1 parent is citizen

The State Department on Tuesday said it will grant U.S. citizenship to children born overseas to those whose parents are married to each other at the time of birth and at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen. 

"Previously, the Department’s interpretation and application of the INA required that children born abroad have a genetic or gestational relationship to a U.S. citizen parent," the State Department said in a press release

"This updated interpretation and application of the INA takes into account the realities of modern families and advances in ART from when the Act was enacted in 1952," the State Department added. 

The updated policy comes after the agency lost several lawsuits involving same-sex couples who sued for their children’s citizenship. 

In October of last year, a federal appeals court ruled against the U.S. State Department in its quest to deny the citizenship of one of two twins born abroad to a gay married couple.

The boy’s other father is a U.S. citizen, and the law does not require a child to show a biological relationship if their parents were married at the time of their birth, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2019. The boy was granted a passport after the ruling, but the State Department appealed.

In June 2020, another federal judge ruled that the State Department must recognize that the daughter of a gay couple in Maryland has been a U.S. citizen since her birth in Canada via a surrogate last year.

The most recent policy change will also allow couples who have been previously denied U.S. citizenship for their child born through in vitro fertilization, surrogacy and other assisted reproductive technologies, to reapply and transmit citizenship to their child. 

"This change will allow increased numbers of married couples to transmit U.S. citizenship to their children born overseas, while continuing to follow the citizenship transmission requirements established in the INA. Requirements for children born to unmarried parents remain unchanged," the State Department said in it’s most recent press release. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.