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USCIS Expands Definition of Mother and Parent under the Immigration and Nationality Act

In October 2014, the USCIS implemented a new policy that essentially expanded the definition of “mother” and “parent” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The term “mother” or “parent” now includes anybody 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.”

The USCIS provided an example of a woman who conceived through an egg donor being eligible to petition that child for U.S. citizenship or residency by virtue of that relationship. Basically, any woman who gives birth despite the absence of a genetic relationship to the child (i.e., share no DNA) can still petition that child for citizenship or residency.

This policy change opens the doors to many issues including the possibility of “selling” U.S. citizenship. For example, a U.S. citizen woman can act as a surrogate mother by carrying the fertilized egg of a Chinese couple. Once born, the baby would be entitled to U.S. citizenship or residency through the U.S. citizen who gave birth to him.