I was born in the United States to a foreign diplomat, but I am not recognized as a U.S. National and or U.S. Citizen, and I am not even documented as a Lawful Permanent Resident, how can this be?
NOTE: This blog is intended solely as a general reference information. It is not legal advice. We recommend you seek legal advice for your situation before relying on any of the information presented here.
This very issue comes as a shock to many. It is a classic example of the highest degree of how ignorance can kill your immigration status and turn your world upside down. Do not be the unfortunate individual that finds him/herself holding a U.S. passport and a U.S. issued birth certificate when suddenly, in your mid-30s, you want to renew your passport and result in rejection. The U.S. State Department then issues a letter explaining the matter which then requires you to relinquish your documents and immediately stop referencing to yourself as a U.S. Citizen.
You may be wondering how this can be possible.
Please read USCIS's most recent Policy Manual dated for August 23, 2017, Volume 7 – Adjustment of Status Part O – Registration Chapter 3 – Foreign Nationals Born in the United States to Accredited Diplomats before reading this blog so that you may verify the details for your situation.
Under the 14th Amendment, children born in the United States to an accredited foreign diplomat do not acquire citizenship since they are considered to have been born under a status that subjects them to the Jurisdiction outside of the United States. U.S. Department of Homeland Security allows such individuals to register as lawful permanent residents (LPRs) from the date of their birth.
The Child born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited by the U.S Department of State may voluntarily register as an LPR. However, If just one parent is the diplomat, and the other parent is a U.S Citizen at the time of birth, then the registration requirement to become an LPR is not necessary. There is no precedent to support the request, in this scenario, as the child will have been subject to the Jurisdiction of the United States and is recognized as a U.S. Citizen.
It is critical to differentiate between the term “register” to become an LPR from the general process of “applying” to become an LPR. When our clients, in this classification, “register” to become lawful permanent residents the LPR status start date begins from the date of their birth. For example, one of our clients was twelve (12) years of age when filing to adjust his status. Upon being approved, his green card was issued dated twelve (12) years back to the day he was born. If the application is not prepared correctly or if the officer assigned to the case is not well informed, they often may generate a green card with an issue date that reflects the approval date instead of backdating it to the birth date. Our clients are directed to request a correction by mail and not the standard only submission on www.USCIS.gov. Since this type of situation needs to be explained and supporting documents cannot be submitted online, our experience backs our opinion to avoid fragmenting the application of online form submission and mailing supporting evidence separately. This issue may not be a big deal for this client, but it was a big deal for our older clients.
One perfect example is a seventeen (17)-year-old client that was approved to register as an LPR right before turning eighteen (18) years of age in this category. She only had to wait one more month to apply for her U.S. Naturalization instead of the five (5) years required. In this classification, the applicants must be at least eighteen (18) years of age. As the LPR status was dated more than seventeen (17) years back, she had more than the five (5) years required without having to wait five (5) years as an LPR status holder.
Shown hereinbelow are the eligibility requirements to register for LPR status under this classification:
1. This must be a voluntary decision
2. Must have been born in the United States
3. Here is the catch: must have maintained continuous residence in the United States since birth.
4. Must be physically present in the United States at the time the application to register as an LPR is submitted.
5. Has a parent who was listed on the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic List most commonly known as the blue list, at the time of the applicant’s birth.
6. Must waive and or lose diplomatic immunity.
Let us go back to the example of the individual in his mid-30s. He obtained a U.S. passport, he conducted business as usual under this status, lived and worked abroad few years then returns to the U.S. only to find out he is NOT an American. To make matters worse, he has now lost his chance to apply to become an LPR under this classification because he resided abroad since his birth and before registering for LPR status. The story gets worse when his spouse was petitioned to become an LPR status based on his supposed U.S. Citizenship status which has now become revocable.
Such occurrences are that which motivates us to stand in the gap and thrust forward to pioneer to educate everyone about these common immigration issues in our society. This can happen to you, your spouse, your mother, your children, your best friend, your neighbor, your boss, your employee…etc. Even worse, if undetected, this supposed U.S. Citizen might have petitioned for a relative’s green card application which now makes the LPR status issued to the relative revocable. How about if this person, along with many other undetected individuals, has voted for a politician and helped him get in office, what then?
You see the problem that we DO NOT want to see is you running for an attorney to rescue you at the point of little to no return. We are informing you now and trying to help you with the necessary paperwork before your case gets out-of-hand. If you find yourself in this situation, see an excellent immigration attorney to help you get out of the tangled mess. The moment you discover you are possibly in this mess or the moment State Department declares your situation as such - you are knowingly staying without a legal U.S. immigration status, so time is of the essence to show that you have, in good faith, acted as quickly as humanly possible.
This category has many layers of information but what has been covered here is sufficient for a comprehensive blog to keep you well informed and encouraged to act and take the driver seat of your immigration journey.