U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday it will immediately begin accepting the gender identity of foreign nationals requesting immigration benefits even if they do not match the gender marker on their supporting documents.
The agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security and deals primarily with lawful immigration in the U.S., said it is updating its policy manual to clarify that ‘USCIS will accept the self-identified gender marker for individuals requesting immigration benefits.’
‘The gender marker they select does not need to match the gender marker indicated on their supporting documentation,’ according to the USCIS announcement March 31, which the White House designated ‘Trans Day of Visibility.’
The agency, which is tasked with scrutinizing and processing legal immigration applications and renewals along with other documents, said nationals requesting immigration services do not need to submit proof of their gender identity when submitting a request to change their marker, with some exceptions.
The Biden administration has marked that day, with President Biden urging Americans to ‘join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination against all transgender, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people.’
Currently, the markers available on forms are male and female, but the agency said it is requesting an additional marker of ‘X’ for ‘another or unspecified gender identity.’
The latest changes originated from a request for input from the public in 2021 on how USCIS could lift barriers to benefits and services. Some of the responses indicated that providing evidence for a gender change was a barrier.
The move echoes similar changes by the State Department, which no longer requires medical documentation to change gender markers on passports and also allows citizens to select ‘X’ as a gender.