Homeland Security’s legal immigration agency will now allow applicants to select a gender of their choice without having to provide supporting documentation that matches.
Those who already have records in the system can also change that previous selection without need for proof, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said.
The only exception is for someone who’s already a citizen, in which case proof will be required.
USCIS announced the change Friday, and it was effective immediately.
The agency said the change was requested by the public during a 2021 comment period asking people to suggest ways to break down barriers to applying for immigration benefits. The gender issue was raised as a problem for some applicants.
“This update is also intended to reduce barriers to travel, employment, services, and benefits by eliminating delays and preventing discrimination and harassment due to inconsistent identity documents,” the agency said in its new guidance.
USCIS said the change is also in line with President Biden’s executive orders to make it easier to apply for immigration benefits and to advance his equity agenda.
Under the old policy those who wanted to select a different “gender marker” had to have documents to support that identity. That meant something like a new identification card, a court order or a document from a doctor.
USCIS suggested that created a security problem for people who wanted to identify one way but who lacked documentation, so their identity card may not accurately reflect their biographic data.
The only selections on current forms are for male and female.
USCIS said it was taking its lead from a number of states that have also moved away from requiring people to show documents to justify their gender selection on state identification cards.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.