U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a new policy clarifying the definition of “mother” and “parent” under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The revised definitions will now include gestational mothers using asisted reproductive technology (ART) regardless of whether they are the genetic mothers.

USCIS and the Department of State (DOS) have concluded that the terms “mother” and “parent” under the INA now include any mother 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.

Under this new policy, a mother who meets this definition, but does not have a genetic relationship with her child, can:

  • Petition for her child based on their relationship
  • Have her child petition for her based on their relationship
  • Transmit U.S. citizenship to her child, if she is a U.S. citizen and all other citizenship requirements are met

The example provided by USCIS is that of a woman who became pregnant through an egg donor. To expand on this example: A U.S. citizen woman acts as a surrogate mother by carrying the fertilized egg of a Chinese couple. Once the child is born, if the U.S. surrogate is the legal mother at the time of birth, the U.S. surrogate then petitions for the child’s U.S. citizenship or residency. Under the new policy, she can do this even though she has no genetic relationship to the child and will not be raising the child as her own.

One if the goals of U.S. immigration policy is family unification and we applaud any steps take by USCIS, DOS or any other government agency to further this goal. 

For more information on this or any other immigration topic, please feel free to contact our office.