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  • Writer's pictureUnited Stateless

U.S. Stateless Advocates Celebrate “Huge Win” With Clear Definition, Recognition of Statelessness by USCIS


Stateless advocates around the world are celebrating a huge win as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Director Ur Jaddou have recognized the situation of stateless people stuck in legal limbo in this country and will consider statelessness in discretionary adjudications.


Coming after years of advocacy, and fulfilling a promise made in 2021, Secretary Mayorkas’ new USCIS guidelines will provide a clear definition of statelessness, offering much-needed clarity and recognition for the over 200,000 stateless people living in the U.S. This will help address the legal limbo they currently face due to the lack of a clear definition. Stateless people are those who are not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law. 


Today’s statement announces that USCIS will train its staff in identifying statelessness, ensuring a clear assessment process and evidentiary standards. Critically, USCIS will consider statelessness as a factor in discretionary decisions about immigration relief, including parole in place. 


The guidelines will raise awareness about statelessness among legal professionals, enabling them to better identify and advocate for stateless clients. This will lead to more effective representation and improved outcomes for stateless individuals navigating the immigration system.


The new guidelines will bring the U.S. closer to compliance with international human rights law, which states that every person has the right to a nationality. This will help improve the U.S.'s global standing on human rights and ensure that stateless people are treated with dignity and respect.


By defining statelessness and creating a clear assessment process, the guidelines are a first step to providing stateless people with lasting status in the United States. While United Stateless celebrates this step, it calls on Congress to pass the Stateless Protection Act, which would provide stateless people with protected status, green card eligibility, and a pathway to permanent citizenship.


We at United Stateless are grateful to Secretary Mayorkas for addressing the unique challenges faced by stateless people. The new USCIS policies will provide a clear definition of statelessness and ensure that statelessness is considered in discretionary decisions, ensuring fair and consistent treatment for stateless individuals within the immigration system. This significant step forward not only raises awareness and improves advocacy for stateless people, but also brings the U.S. closer to compliance with international human rights law. We call on Congress to build on the momentum created by this announcement by passing the Stateless Protection Act.

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