USCIS Expands Definitions of “Mother” And “Parent” For Immigration Purposes

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a new policy clarifying the definition of “mother” and “parent” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Under the new policy, a non-genetic gestational mother (person who carried and gave birth to the child), who is also the child’s legal mother, may be recognized in the same way as genetic legal mothers are treated under the INA. Previously, a genetic relationship with a U.S. citizen parent was required in order for a child born abroad to acquire citizenship at birth through his or her parent.

USCIS and Department of State (DOS) have concluded that the term “mother” and “parent” under the INA includes 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, a mother who meets this definition will:

  • Be able to petition for her child based on their relationship
  • Be eligible to have her child petition for her based on their relationship
  • Be able to transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other pertinent citizenship requirements are met.
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