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US officials update citizenship policies for some children born overseas

FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2019 file photo Acting Director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli, speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington. The Trump administration has unveiled new rules that will make it harder for children of some immigrants serving in the military to obtain citizenship. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services released updated guidance Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019, that appears to mostly affect non-citizen service members. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci,File)

Children of some members of the US military and other government agencies who are born overseas will no longer get automatic US citizenship, under an updated policy from US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The policy update, dated Wednesday, redefines “residence” for the purpose of determining citizenship. It reads:

USCIS no longer considers children of U.S. government employees and U.S. armed forces members residing outside the United States as ‘residing in the United States’ for purposes of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.

Those children are currently considered to “reside” on American soil, even though technically, their birth took place in another country.

A statement issued late Wednesday clarified the rule would primarily affect the children of naturalized citizens serving in the military who have not lived on US soil for a set amount of time.

Under the new policy, those parents would need to apply for naturalization rather than be granted automatic citizenship for their children. The naturalization process would need to be completed before that child turns 18, while still living overseas.

The new policy takes effect Oct. 29, 2019.

In a series of tweets meant to clarify the policy change, Ken Cuccinelli, acting chief of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, explained those already guaranteed birthright citizenship still get it.

“The policy manual update today does not affect who is born a U.S. citizen, period. It only affects children who were born outside the US and were not US citizens. This does NOT impact birthright citizenship,” Cuccinelli tweeted.

The policy update created confusion in military and diplomatic families Wednesday.