WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — U.S. immigration officials are defending new citizenship rules for children born to some U.S. military and federal employees serving outside of the country.

The recently-announced citizenship rules mean children born to non-citizen parents will now have to return to the U.S. and physically live in the country for 5 years before applying for citizenship — all before they turn 18.

The new rules also apply to children of legal, permanent residents.

The initial online memo announcing the change caused an uproar at U.S. installations around the world.

“Our servicemen and women give everything for this country and this is the respect that President Trump shows them,” said presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Immigration officials had to clarify that the rule change will not apply to the children of U.S. citizens.

“We have a lot of non-U.S. citizens in the military,” said former Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb. “In fact, without immigrants in the military, we wouldn’t be able to maintain our volunteer military.”

Korb, a retired Navy captain and senior fellow at the Center for American Progress argued the change may actually discourage military service.

“Well if those men and women are overseas and their children are not U.S. citizens — whereas if they had stayed in the United States they would be — that is a policy that undermines rationality and military readiness,” Korb said.

Immigration officials said they don’t believe the new rule creates more burdens for immigrants who serve the country. They added that the state department asked for the change for consistency.

The new rules will apply to children born after Oct. 29.