For same-sex couples and others expanding their families through in vitro fertilization, surrogacy or other assisted reproductive technologies, changes by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may offer some relief. The USCIS updated its policy guidance on Aug. 5, 2021, determining what it means for a child born abroad to be born “in wedlock.”
USCIS updates meaning of “in wedlock”
In the past, couples that used in vitro fertilization or surrogacy to have children may have faced difficulties when seeking family visas for their child especially same-sex couples, where only one parent is likely to have a genetic tie to the child. Under the revised policy, any child whose parents were legally married at the time of birth, with one parent having a genetic or gestational relationship to the child, is considered “born in wedlock.” In this case, both parents must still be recognized as the legal parents of the child.
Policy change aims to improve inclusivity
The definition has also been expanded to protect genetic and gestational parents, like surrogates. The child of a U.S. citizen who is married to the child’s genetic or gestational parent at the time of birth is also considered a child born in wedlock. In the past, a child’s genetic parents had to be married to each other for the child to be considered “born in wedlock,” although there were other mechanisms, such as adoption, to obtain the necessary visa or citizenship for a child. USCIS said that the changed policy aims to improve the agency’s record of fair access and support for all families and to remove barriers to citizenship.