The House of Representatives recently passed via the Suspension Calendar the bipartisan H.R. 4803, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act, legislation that would make it easier for families living overseas, specifically those in military or government service, to secure citizenship for their children. Senators Duckworth and Graham introduced similar legislation (S.2679) in the Senate, which passed by Unanimous Consent in March of 2020. On March 26, 2020, the President signed the bill into law.
Current law allows foreign-born children under age 18 with at least one U.S. citizen parent to automatically acquire citizenship if the child is residing in the U.S. in the custody of the parent and was admitted as a lawful permanent resident. Since 2005, the Department of State (DoS) provided an exception to the residency requirements for individuals temporarily stationed abroad while serving in the military or working for the U.S. government, considering their children to be “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquiring citizenship.
This policy acknowledged that military and government service requires individuals to be outside of the United States for an extended period of time, rightfully sparing military and government families the time and costs of returning to the U.S. or finding another way to satisfy the residency requirement for their children to acquire citizenship. In 2015, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) affirmed DoS’ interpretation.