US immigration introduces third gender option for citizenship applications

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced the introduction of an X gender marker in addition to the traditional binary options.

The entrance of the US Citizenship and Immigration agency, which has recently introduced a third gender marker.
Image: Via Shutterstock - Sundry Photography

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced the introduction of a third gender option for Form N-400, through which people can apply for legal citizneship. With this revision, effective from April 1, non-binary and gender non-conforming applicants will now be able to use an X gender marker in the document.

According to the announcement released by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, in addition to the traditional ‘Male (M)’ and ‘Female (F)’ markers, the new form will include an X gender option to signify “another gender identity”. At the time of writing, the change only applies to Form N-400, for application for naturalisation, but the agency is already working on expanding it to other forms and documents.

The move, which follows the introduction of the X marker for passports, will make it easier for applicants from countries where a third gender option is already available to require matching documents.

Moreover, people who have already submitted an application for naturalisation can now update their petition, whereas those who have already received their certifications will have to wait until the change applies to other forms.

In announcing the revision on its website, the agency wrote: “Historically, USCIS forms and associated documents have only offered two gender options: ‘Male (M)’ and ‘Female (F).’ This has created significant barriers for requestors who do not identify with either of those options.

“Limiting benefit requestors to two gender options also creates administrative challenges for USCIS when we receive birth certificates or other official government-issued documents with a gender other than M or F,” the statement continued.

“Adding a third gender option helps ensure that secure identity documents and biographical data are accurate and helps both external stakeholders and individuals requesting immigration benefits.”

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services added, “This revision is consistent with efforts to break down barriers in the immigration system and reduce undue burdens on accessing immigration benefits while still maintaining identity verification and fraud prevention procedures.”

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