Posted: December 9, 2022
Washington – Today, Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) voted to pass the Veteran Service Recognition Act. Immigrants have served in the U.S. armed forces in every major conflict since the Revolutionary War. Today, there are approximately 45,000 immigrants actively serving in the U.S. armed forces. Our servicemembers and veterans have earned benefits and support through the sacrifices they made during their service. This bill will help noncitizen servicemembers, veterans, and their families obtain citizenship.
“It is the responsibility of our country to live up to the promises made to our men and women in uniform, including delivering a clear pathway to citizenship for our immigrant veterans,” said Thompson. “Tens of thousands of servicemembers currently enlisted in our Armed Services are non-citizens, and the Veteran Service Recognition Act will close the gap of our immigration system and help our veterans that have dutifully served receive their citizenship. Proud to have voted for this bill to ensure that our servicemembers are honored for their sacrifice and work, regardless of where they were born.”
The Veteran Service Recognition Act delivers a clear pathway to citizenship for noncitizen veterans and servicemembers. The bill includes Rep. Thompson’s provision to extend the period that eligible noncitizen veterans can apply for naturalization processing from six months to one year from the completion of their service. By extending this period, veterans will have more flexibility to readjust to civilian life while working on their naturalization paperwork. Rep. Thompson has been leading efforts to pass this provision and introduced it this Congress as H.R. 3881.
The Veteran Service Recognition Act will:
- Direct the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to implement a program that allows non-citizen servicemembers to file for naturalization during basic training, or as early as otherwise possible.
- Direct the Department of Homeland Security to establish a Military Family Immigration Advisory Committee. This committee will review the cases of non-citizen veterans and active duty servicemembers in removal proceedings and will provide recommendations on whether prosecutorial discretion is warranted, or whether the removal proceedings should continue.
- Provide an opportunity for non-citizen veterans who have been removed or ordered removed and who have not been convicted of serious crimes to apply for and obtain legal permanent resident status if it is in the public interest.
H.R. 7946 is supported by many immigration and veterans organizations, including American Legion, The National Immigration Forum, FWD.us, National Immigrant Justice Center, Unidos, Human Rights First, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans for American Ideals, Secure Families Initiative, and AFL-CIO.