December 06, 2019

Duckworth-Sponsored Companion Bill For Foreign Born Military Children Passes U.S. House

 

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a companion bill of Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and Georgia Republican Senator Johnny Isakson’s Children of Military Members & Civil Servants Act. The bill establishes that a foreign-born child of a U.S. citizen who is a member of the Armed Forces or government employee like the civil service may automatically acquire U.S. citizenship even if the child is not residing in the United States and is born outside of the United States.

Currently, a foreign-born child automatically acquires U.S. citizenship if the child (1) has at least one parent who is a citizen, (2) is less than 18 years old, and (3) is residing in the United States in the citizen parent’s legal and physical custody pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence. Under this bill, the third requirement is fulfilled if a foreign-born child is (1) living in the legal and physical custody of the citizen Armed Services member or government employee who has been stationed abroad (or the accompanying spouse of such a citizen), and (2) lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. The bill also covers step-children and adopted children.

According to a press release from Duckworth, previous administrations considered children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces and employees of the U.S. Government stationed outside the U.S. to be considered “residing in the United States” for purposes of automatically acquiring citizenship and would not cause unnecessary problems to service member’s citizenship status. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced in August that it was ending automatic citizenship for certain children of U.S. Service members and civil servants working and residing outside the U.S. Forcing them to navigate a bureaucratic process that cost in excess of $1100 per child. The companion bill sponsored by New York Democrat Representative Jerry Nadler passed the House on Tuesday.