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Appeals court strikes down unconstitutional law

Pennsylvania immigrant fathers may be interested to learn about a decision in a recent case by a federal appeals court. The court ruled that the existing way that fathers and mothers have been treated differently in determining whether their children can claim citizenship rights is unconstitutional.

The law in question required unwed fathers who are United States citizens to spend a minimum of five years residing in the country before being able to petition for their foreign-born child to become a U.S. citizen. The law applies when the child is born abroad out of wedlock and his or her mother is not a United States citizen. In contrast, the law only required unwed mothers to reside in the United States for one year.

The case involved an adult child born in the Dominican Republic by a father who is an American citizen and a mother who is not. The child's father failed to meet the minimum five-year requirement 20 days before the child would have had the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. The New York court ruled that the lower standard should apply equally to both mothers and fathers and that the law imposed impermissible stereotypes by imposing a stricter standard on fathers. The court also said that the child would now be considered a citizen due to the father meeting the lower standard that was previously only allowed for mothers.

Individuals who are facing immigration issues that are based on laws that appear to treat one group of people differently than another group may choose to discuss their case with an immigration lawyer. The lawyer may be able to discuss different options that these individuals may have, including challenging any laws that unfairly discriminate against certain individuals.

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