Leahy, Lugar Introduce Return Of Talent Act

Bill will allow immigrants with Legal Permanent Residence status to assist the U.S. government and UN in overseas emergencies

WASHINGTON – Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation to provide an exception to the continued physical presence requirement for Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who assist the U.S. government and United Nations in crises abroad.

“Our values are reflected in this bill, which will encourage immigrants with critical skills to assist their home nations with reconstruction projects after natural disaster or conflict,” said Leahy.  “Like the Refugee Opportunity Act, the Return of Talent Act rewards instead of penalizes the selfless intentions of immigrants and refugees.” 

 “Thousands of Legal Permanent Residents from countries in crisis have skills and talents ranging from linguistic to medical to cultural expertise that are desperately needed to help their former countries re-build,” Lugar said. “If they are willing to work in those countries alongside U.S. and UN personnel to help restore these nations they should not be penalized.”

U.S. immigration law currently requires LPRs to have resided continuously in the United States for at least five years preceding his or her application for naturalization to become a U.S citizen. The Return of Talent Act would allow an LPR to work abroad and not have that break in continuous presence in the U.S. affect his or her application later for naturalization, provided that this work is related to post-conflict or natural disaster reconstruction activities run by the U.S. or United Nations.

Leahy and Lugar have been supporters of providing assistance where appropriate to foreign nationals who have made sacrifices to assist the United States in the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also co-authored the Refugee Opportunity Act. That Act and the Return of Talent legislation will be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Leahy chairs, for consideration.

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