Amata Introduces Bill to Simplify Citizenship Process and Reduce Costs for U.S. Nationals from American Samoa

February 14, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Wednesday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata introduced a bill that would give U.S. Nationals from American Samoa a much more affordable and streamlined process if they choose to convert their National status to full U.S. citizenship.

First and foremost, residents in American Samoa would no longer have to move off island to become citizens. Secondly, they would no longer have to take the citizenship test.  Finally, they would be eligible for a hardship waiver of the application fee.

“This will save the tremendous burden and costs of having to move to another State from American Samoa for the application process,” said Aumua Amata. “So often a National from our islands has to quit a job or move away from their family for months to become a citizen. No more upon passage of the American Samoan Citizenship Simplification Act.”

Too often, good paying jobs in the civil service, law enforcement, the military or private sector require citizenship as a condition of employment, particularly those jobs requiring security clearances. This will allow American Samoans to choose citizenship without having to make unnecessary moves, incur unnecessary travel costs or take time away from their job or family to study and take the citizenship test.

“Another benefit of this bill for those serving in the Armed Services from American Samoa is that they won’t have their lives or duty assignments disrupted when they decide to become a citizen to advance their career. In order to receive promotions to the officer ranks or get security clearances, those serving need to become U.S. citizens,” continued Congresswoman Amata. “As U.S. Nationals, these service men and women were raised under the U.S. flag, in schools that taught U.S. history, and they’ve owed allegiance to the U.S. since birth. It makes sense that their path and other American Samoan civilian Nationals to U.S. citizenship would be simplified. Those serving in the military have already taken an oath to the U.S. Constitution. Under this bill, U.S. Nationals would be able to choose citizenship more readily and affordably.”

The bipartisan bill, which includes Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), the Ranking Member on the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, as an original cosponsor, would streamline the U.S. citizenship process for U.S. Nationals, reduce their costs of doing so and recognize that they are not the same as foreign nationals seeking citizenship, as they already owe their allegiance to and are already legal residents of the United States.

The bill would not change the U.S. National status of anyone on the islands unless they choose to pursue citizenship.

In summary, the bill waives residency requirements and civics tests for U.S. Nationals; allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to administer the citizenship process (applications, oaths, interviews, ceremonies) in American Samoa, eliminating the obligation to leave the island and its costs; and finally, allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust application fees to reduce costs, and to waive such fees based on economic hardship.