WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the United States Senate passed S. 2679, the “Citizenship for Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act,” by Unanimous Consent. The bill heads to the President’s desk today for signature. FWD.us President Todd Schulte issued the following statement:
“Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, have come together to protect access to U.S. citizenship for families serving our country in uniform through the bipartisan ‘Citizenship for Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act.’ This is strong legislation that the President should quickly sign into law.
“This important legislation, passed unanimously in the United States Senate, restores equal access to citizenship for children of Americans serving overseas. It provides the children of service-members and civil servants stationed overseas access to the same citizenship process as children living in the U.S., rather than requiring them to undergo a lengthier, more difficult, and more costly process.
“As Senator Duckworth said, ‘Children of Americans serving their nation abroad are just as worthy of automatic citizenship as any other children.’
The “Citizenship for Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act” (S. 2679) clarifies current law, ensuring children of Americans stationed abroad in military or government service are considered “residing in the United States” for the purposes of acquiring citizenship. This legislation is important to guarantee service-members and civil servants, and their families, do not face additional hurdles to acquiring United States citizenship as a result of their service.
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.
However, USCIS reversed course in late 2019 and eliminated the exception. Under new guidance, certain children (such as adoptees) whose parents are deployed or working for the government abroad will not have access to the same citizenship process as children living in the U.S.; instead, their parents will have to undergo a lengthy, difficult, and costly process to secure citizenship for their children.
The House passed the companion H.R. 4803, sponsored by House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA), in March 2020.
For more on this issue, read FWD.us’ blog here.
For more background on immigrants serving in the military, read FWD.us’ blog here.