Metro Weekly

U.S. Immigration to Offer a Third Gender Option

Nonbinary applicants for naturalization will be able to select a gender marker that reflects their identity.

Form N-400 – Image: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will offer a third gender marker to make it easier for gender-nonconforming immigrants to apply for naturalization status.

USCIS’s new intake form will include an “X” gender option for those who do not identify as either male or female. 

“Historically, USCIS forms and associated documents have only offered two gender options: ‘Male (M)’ and ‘Female (F)’,” the agency said in an announcement of the updated form.

“The lack of an additional gender option on USCIS forms and secure documents for use by benefit requestors who do not identify with either male or female option creates significant barriers for those requestors.”

USCIS also noted that allowing only two gender marker options can create administrative challenges in cases where applicants submit birth certificates and other government-issued documents with a third or nonbinary gender marker.

Several countries, including Pakistan, Nepal, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and Australia offer third-gender options on their passports.

The United States has also begun issuing passports with “X” gender markers for nonbinary individuals, with several individual states offering the option on birth certificates as well.

In addition, 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow nonbinary individuals the option of a third gender marker on their driver’s licenses.

USCICS noted, in its announcement, that the third gender option will only apply to Form N-400, the application for naturalization, for the time being. Over time, it will be added to additional forms used by immigration officials as they are revised.

As noted in the announcement, nonbinary individuals who have already applied for naturalization can request that their petitions be updated with their correct gender identity.

But those who have already received their naturalization certificate will have to wait for a separate form, the N-565 application for a replacement naturalization document, to be updated. 

Those who select the third gender marker option are not required to provide supporting documentation showing proof of transition.

The gender selected on Form N-400 does not have to match the gender listed on other identity documents — a concession to immigrants from countries that don’t offer nonbinary or gender-neutral options. 

USCIS also noted that individuals who select the “X” gender marker option on the N-400 form may have to visit a Social Security office for an updated card or to update their citizenship status.

The Social Security Administration is still in the process of developing systems to accept a third gender marker.

USCIS added that the revision to Form N-400 “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 procedure.”

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