U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to clarify that, as of April 1, 2023, USCIS will accept the self-identified gender marker for individuals requesting immigration benefits. In other words, the gender marker an individual selects on required USCIS applications, petitions, and requests does not need to match the gender marker indicated on their supporting documentation (Birth Certificates, Passport, Driver’s Licenses, etc.).
Neither an individual’s initial selection nor any later change in gender selection requires supporting documentation, such as a physician’s letter, a government-issued document reflecting the requested gender designation, or a court order recognizing a change of gender, regarding said individual’s gender identity. In addition, the gender selected does not need to match the gender listed on other previously submitted immigration documents.
That said, this policy update guidance does not currently apply to Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document. Individuals submitting such a request must still continue to follow the form instructions. See (Form N-565).
Individuals seeking to change their gender selection marker after their initial immigration filing should proceed to the USCIS Updating or Correcting Your Documents webpage or contact their immigration counsel to guide them through the process. At present, the only gender markers available are “Male” (M) or “Female” (F). But, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated that they are “working on options to include an additional gender marker (“X”) for another or unspecified gender identity.” Look out for our updates on when such an update to USCIS forms and Policy Manual occurs.
This policy update is a result of a Request for Public Input published by DHS in April 2021. The request sought input on the public’s feedback on barriers to USCIS benefits and services. The responses to this request revealed that many individuals believed that the evidentiary requirements associated with gender marker changes created barriers for individuals requesting immigration benefits. According to DHS, through subsequent listening sessions, stakeholders have further highlighted how this policy change “will remove barriers and reduce burdens for applicants and petitioners, in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14012, Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.” In addition, DHS further asserts their efforts fulfill the president’s guidance “under Executive Order 13988, Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, and Executive Order 14091, Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
Employers can visit the Policy Manual Feedback page for additional comments and suggested improvements regarding this update. USCIS will consider any comments received in future updates.