The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), released new guidance aimed at providing support to stateless noncitizens residing in the United States. Stateless individuals are those who lack legal citizenship in any country, often resulting in difficulties accessing education, healthcare, employment, and legal identity. Stateless status can be due to various factors such as birth, discrimination, war, conflict, or changing borders and laws. The updated guidance offers clarification on when and how USCIS may recognize an individual as stateless when evaluating immigration benefits or other requests.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas expressed the department's commitment to addressing the global issue of statelessness and breaking down barriers faced by stateless individuals in the United States. With the new guidance, stateless individuals will have the opportunity to apply for immigration protections and benefits they are eligible for.
In response to the guidance, USCIS will establish procedures to assist officers in identifying potential statelessness during application assessments. This involves updating training materials on statelessness, enhancing training protocols, and creating standard operating procedures for officers to request internal assessments of potential statelessness when relevant. Specifically trained USCIS personnel will provide adjudicating officers with advisory reports to consider an individual's statelessness when making decisions on applications or benefit requests. The guidance also offers examples of documentation that may help USCIS officers determine an individual's stateless status for USCIS purposes.
The implementation of these updates will enable USCIS to collect more comprehensive and accurate data on this vulnerable population, estimated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to include around 218,000 people in the United States who are at potential risk of statelessness.