March 20, 2012

'The State Department Says The Donor Determines Citizenship'

I'm kind of amazed by this story. Maybe it's the way it's written.

The State Department's regulations do not consider kids conceived in vitro and born outside the US to US citizens to be eligible for US citizenship themselves.

The case in the USA today article is that of a US/Israeli mom whose kids were turned down for US citizenship:

An embassy staffer wanted to know whether Lavi got pregnant at a fertility clinic. She said yes and was told that her children were not eligible for citizenship unless she could prove that the egg or sperm used to create the embryo was from an American citizen.
So yes, in vitro, but also, apparently, egg and sperm donors. Which, great, of course, but.

"The State Department says the donor determines citizenship," according to an Israeli US immigration lawyer. So isn't the logical thing, besides fixing the law, or, you know, lying about how a kid was conceived, to incorporate some kind of adoption documentation or proceeding into the embryo donation process? Or to initiate some kind of adoption proceeding immediately after the kid is born, even if only on paper?

Also, does this problem happen anywhere but Israel? Because this article feels almost entirely Israeli.

In Vitro Babies Denied US Citizenship [usatoday]

UPDATE: Thanks to Dr. Spouse in the comments for actually looking up the applicable regulation. Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship by a Child Born Abroad []


I'm guessing the reproductive endocrinologist lobby in the US doesn't want to see people cross the border for cheap fertility treatments.

See, that's kind of what I wondered, too, the extent and appeal of IV or even embryo donor tourism for Americans. But in any of those cases, it seems unlikely that parents would hang out abroad for the birth of their kid, too.

So it'd really be expats, plugged into the health system, or dual citizens, which may finally explain the Israeli angle.

The regulations say "The mother must be genetically related to the person in order to transmit U.S. citizenship." but I don't remember reading that when checking in previous years so it may be a recent addition. But children born out of wedlock to a US citizen father need not be acknowledged by that father to gain citizenship so could get citizenship from a US citizen donor (to get citizenship through the mother children need to be "born to" and genetically related to the mother).

As has been said, it's relatively easy now to get US citizenship for adopted children even where they are born abroad and the parents live abroad, so this seems perverse. Though of course there are the cases of the older adoptees being deported to their countries of birth.

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