The Homeland Security Department’s legal immigration agency is now allowing applicants to select the gender of their choice without having to provide matching documentation.
Those who already have records in the system can change their selections without proof, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said.
The only exceptions are for those who already have become citizens, in which case proof is required.
USCIS announced the change Friday, and it became effective immediately.
The agency said the public requested the change during a 2021 comment period about breaking down barriers to immigration benefits. Some applicants said the gender issue was a problem.
“This update is also intended to reduce barriers to travel, employment, services, and benefits by eliminating delays and preventing discrimination and harassment due to inconsistent identity documents,” the agency said in its guidance.
USCIS said the change is in line with President Biden’s executive orders to make it easier to apply for immigration benefits and to advance his equity agenda.
Under the old policy, those who wanted to select a different “gender marker” had to have documents to support that identity. That meant a new identification card, a court order or a document from a doctor.
USCIS suggested that the requirement created security problems for people who wanted to identify one way but lacked documentation. Their identity cards may not accurately reflect their biographic data.
The only selections on current forms are male and female.
USCIS said it was taking its lead from a number of states that have moved away from document requirements to justify gender selection on state identification cards.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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