WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) praised the Senate’s passage of a bill (H.R. 6223) that would allow certain federal employees who are legal permanent U.S. residents (green card holders) to count their period of employment abroad towards meeting residency requirements for naturalization as American citizens. 

Rep. Dent introduced the bill in the House, and it was adopted unanimously on December 5th. To facilitate quick action on this important issue, Sen. Toomey introduced Rep. Dent’s bill in the Senate.

The legislation allows translators, interpreters or executive level security personnel working abroad for the chief of mission or the U.S. armed forces to count their time employed abroad toward the residency requirement and physical presence requirement for naturalization.

Sen. Toomey and Rep. Dent introduced the legislation on behalf of a Bethlehem resident and green card holder who has been unable to obtain American citizenship because his time working for the U.S. State Department in Iraq has prevented him from meeting the requirement that he maintain a continuous physical presence in the U.S. for a period of time. The man’s family received citizenship in 2009 after securing green cards as a result of his service for the State Department.

“It is unfair to prevent these individuals’ naturalization when it is their work on behalf of the American people that necessitates their being out of the country for so long,” Sen. Toomey said. “In many cases, these individuals are working in dangerous locations and situations, and we ought to make the process of naturalization smoother for them. This bill would do just that, and I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for unanimously supporting it.”

“These dedicated individuals are doing America a great service, often under dangerous conditions and in highly volatile environments. 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,” commented Rep. Dent.

The bill will now go to the president for his signature.