The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released a fact sheet
stating that members and certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces are eligible
to apply for United States citizenship under special provisions of the Immigration
and Nationality Act (INA). In addition, the USCIS has streamlined the application
and naturalization process for military personnel serving on active-duty or recently
discharged. Generally, qualifying service is in one of the following branches:
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain reserve components of
the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
A member of the U.S. Armed Forces must meet certain requirements and qualifications
to become a citizen of the United States. This includes demonstrating:
Qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempt from other naturalization
requirements, including residency and physical presence in the United States.
These exceptions are listed in Sections 328 and 329 of the INA.
- Good moral character;
- Knowledge of the English language;
- Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics); and
- Attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to
the U.S. Constitution.
An individual who obtains U.S. citizenship through his or her military service
and separates from the military under “other than honorable conditions”
before completing five years of honorable service may have his or her citizenship
Service in Wartime
All immigrants who have served honorably on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
or as a member of the Selected Ready Reserve on or after September 11, 2001 are
eligible to file for immediate citizenship under the special wartime provisions
in Section 329 of the INA. This section also covers veterans of designated past
wars and conflicts.
Service in Peacetime
Section 328 of the INA applies to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces or those
already discharged from service. An individual may qualify for naturalization
if he or she has:
- Served honorably for at least one year.
- Obtained lawful permanent resident status.
- Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of
Section 329A of the INA provides for grants of posthumous citizenship to certain
members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Other provisions of law extend benefits to surviving
spouses, children, and parents.
How to Apply
- A member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served honorably during a designated
period of hostilities and dies as a result of injury or disease incurred in,
or aggravated by, that service (including death in combat) may receive posthumous
- The service member’s next of kin, the Secretary of Defense, or the
Secretary’s designee in USCIS must make this request for posthumous
citizenship within two years of the service member’s death.
- Under section 319(d) of the INA, a spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen
who dies while serving honorably in active-duty status in the U.S. Armed Forces,
can file for naturalization if the family member meets naturalization requirements
other than residency and physical presence.
- For other immigration purposes, a surviving spouse (unless he or she remarries),
child, or parent of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served honorably
on active duty and died as a result of combat, and was a citizen at the time
of death (including a posthumous grant of citizenship) is considered an immediate
relative for two years after the service members dies and may file a petition
for classification as an immediate relative during such period. A surviving
parent may file a petition even if the deceased service member had not reached
- All aspects of the naturalization process, including applications, interviews
and ceremonies are available overseas to members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not charged a fee to file for naturalization
or to receive a certificate of citizenship.
- Every military installation has a designated point-of-contact to assist
with filing the military naturalization application packet. Once complete,
the package is sent to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for expedited processing.
That package will include: