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How to Obtain Citizenship Through Military Service

By Peek & Toland on August 19, 2016

If you are serving in the U.S. military special rules apply that can expedite your path to citizenship.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorizes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to speed up the naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces as well as those who were recently discharged.

How military service can expedite citizenship

On our website, we note that service personnel or those recently discharged who qualify for citizenship due to military services are exempt from certain naturalization requirements. They are detailed in Sections 328 and 329 of the INA. Even if you are serving overseas with the U.S. armed forces, you have access to all aspects of the naturalization process. Certain “command-sponsored” spouses have the same rights.

It’s worth noting that those who leave the service under conditions that are other than honorable after obtaining U.S. citizenship could have it revoked.

 

Which Military Services Benefit from Expedited Citizenship?

Qualifying military service generally includes:

1 – Army

2 – Navy

3 – Marine Corps

4 – Coast Guard

5 – National Guard

Qualifications

A member of the U.S. armed forces must meet certain requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States. He or she must demonstrate:

  • Knowledge of the English language,
  • Good moral character,
  • Knowledge of history and U.S. government, and
  • Attachment to the United States of America by taking the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.

USCIS states that since the beginning of October 1, 2001, it has naturalized 109,321 members of the military. Of those 11,069 became U.S. citizens during naturalization ceremonies in 34 different foreign countries.

There are special provisions for those serving during war and peacetime.

Service during War

Under Section 329 of the INA, all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were to file immediately for citizenship. The order which was signed by President George W Bush in July 2002, also applies to veterans of specified previous conflicts.

Service During Peacetime

Members of the U.S. armed services who have been discharged are covered by Section 328 of the INA. Overseas nationals who served in the past may qualify for naturalization if they have:

  • Served honorably in the armed forces for a minimum of one year,
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., and
  • Filed an application for citizenship while in the service or within six months of leaving.

America’s servicemen and women have shown great bravery in some of the harshest conditions as the United States has taken part in protracted conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. At Peek & Toland , we are happy to provide our nation’s service members with the all of the assistance they need to become citizens. Please contact us today so as we can help you and your family to take the next step.

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