Congressman Charlie Dent sponsored a bill which will make it easier for foreign born federal employees to gain U.S. citizenship, and it has passed the U.S. House and Senate. H.R. 6223 would allow certain employees who are legal permanent U.S. residents to count their employment abroad toward meeting residency requirements for naturalization as American citizens.
This bill came about on behalf of a resident of Bethlehem who was a green card holder, but unable to obtain American citizenship because of his extended periods outside of the country for the U.S. State Department in Iraq. After the man’s service, his family received citizenship in 2009 after gaining green cards.
Current laws prevent individuals like him from gain naturalization, although they are working for the federal government while abroad. The bill will make the process smoother and is available for translators, interpreters or executive level security personnel who work abroad for the U.S. armed forces or chief of mission.
“These dedicated individuals are doing America a great service, often under dangerous conditions and in highly volatile environments,” Dent said. “As Americans, we know it is unfair that people who so greatly wish to become American citizens should be penalized bureaucratically while they are making critical contributions to our country in the war against terrorism across the globe.”
Dent was recently re-elected to to the 15th District representing sectors of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. He introduced the bill and it was unanimously adopted on December 5. The bill is now on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature.