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Supreme Court ruling ends sex discrimination in immigration law

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A ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States clarified the process for citizens in Maryland trying to bring the children of unmarried unions into the country. The law governing this process had been established in 1940, and its wording discriminated against fathers. A case representing a man who had been born of a male U.S. citizen brought this issue to light, and the Supreme Court decided that the law clearly discriminated on the basis of sex.

The law granted the child born out of the country of an unmarried U.S. woman nearly automatic U.S. citizenship. The mother only needed to have lived within the United States for one year at any point in her life. An unmarried father, however, had to meet different criteria to gain citizenship for children born in other countries. A man needed to have lived in the United States for at least 10 years, and five of them needed to occur after he was 14 years old.

Although the justices chose to eliminate the discriminatory element of the statute, the ruling did not advance the citizenship process for the person in the legal case. The justices applied the longer residency requirements to both unmarried men and women seeking citizenship for children born elsewhere.

When a person is navigating issues with immigration authorities, the representation of an attorney could aid the process. An attorney might help someone obtain a work visa or bring a relative into the country. After reviewing the individual's circumstances, a lawyer could develop a strategy for meeting legal requirements for entry to the country. Along with filling out paperwork, an attorney could attend hearings with the client and explain to immigration officials how the person qualifies for approval.

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