I’ve completed the visa portion of my consular training, and have moved on to the American Citizen Services part of the class. We spent last week learning exactly how US citizen parents transmit their citizenship to children born abroad. Contrary to what I remember learning in high school civics, merely having a US citizen parents does not necessarily guarantee that you qualify for citizenship.
The entrance to our last July 4th party at Embassy Malabo. It’s hard to capture what it means to be American since it varies so much from person to person, but we tried!
Congress wanted to ensure that US citizens who have children abroad have enough American-ness in them to pass on to their children, so there are stipulations about how long a parent must have been present within the borders of the USA before their children were born in order to have US citizen kids. It’s not exactly cut and dry, either. The qualifications vary based on whether the child of the US citizen was born in, out, or of wedlock, and whether the US citizen was the mother or father. Then there were some years where Congress decided that people who were born US citizens also needed to live in the USA for a certain period of time in order to retain their status.
So today, we practiced telling our classmates that their pretend children were not, in fact, US citizens. Yikes! Can you imagine receiving the news that your child did not qualify for the citizenship that you believed they had received at birth? Or learning that you had actually lost your claim to citizenship somewhere along they way? That would be a very very bad day.
Curious what the law actually says about citizenship and nationality? Check out these resources provided by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:
Citizenship by Birth
Children Born Abroad in Wedlock
Children Born Abroad Out of Wedlock
I have successfully completed my Serbian language training! Although my teachers assured me multiple times leading up to the exam that they felt I was ready to test, I still felt nervous walking in to the testing center last week. Since I had been in a class all by myself for several months, I wasn’t sure how my speaking and reading abilities matched up to my peers. But I tested well and have enjoyed spending the past two days of classes that were entirely in English!
I am now in a course that we call “ConGen” that is designed to teach basic consular skills. It covers a wide range of topics including immigrant visa policies, non-immigrant visa policies, and American citizen services. So far, we have practiced interviewing each other about mundane life events and determining whether two photos are of the same person or different people (harder said than done if the person has different hair, age, or weight).
For homework tonight I had to read about the different types of non-immigrant visas. Having traveled abroad a bit in the past, I knew that there are differences between a student visa and a tourist visa but have never thought much about the wider range of visas available. Did you know that there are special visas available for air and sea crewmen? And for athletes, artists, and entertainers? Or, my personal favorite, for aliens of extraordinary abilities?