Thursday, February 3, 2011

Naturalization Through Military Service

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for an expedited naturalization process for current or recently discharged members of the Army, NavyAir Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard.  

On July 3, 2002 President Bush signed Executive Order 13269 authorizing all noncitizens who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces on or after Sept. 11, 2001 to immediately file for citizenship. This order also covers veterans of certain designated past wars and conflicts. This was done pursuant to Section 329 of the INA which covers periods of service during periods of hostilities. Section 328 of the INA covers periods of service during peacetime.   Under this section, members of the U.S. armed forces and those already discharged from service may qualify for naturalization if he or she has:

  • Served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year;
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status; and
  • Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.
Every military installation has a designated point-of-contact, generally in the personnel division or the Judge Advocate General’s Office, to assist members of the military prepare and file their naturalization application packet. Here's where members of the military can go for additional help:
Members of the military seeking to naturalize must still meet some of the basic requirements.  For example, the applicant must be a person of good moral character, have a basic command of the English language, and must also have a basic knowledge of U.S. History and Government. An applicant for naturalization must also show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and will be required to take the Oath of Allegiance. Members of the military however are exempt from other naturalization requirements, including residence and physical presence in the United States.