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USCIS Fact sheet on Military Naturalizations

Members of the U.S.
Armed Forces may apply for citizenship under special provisions of the Immigration
and Nationality Act (INA). Generally, that includes service in one of the following
branches of the U.S. Military:


Army,


Navy,


Marine Corps,


Air Force,


Coast Guard,


Certain Reserve
components of the National Guard, and


Selected Reserve
of the Ready Reserve.

Recent changes in sections 328 and 329 of the INA make it easier for qualified
military personnel to become U.S. citizens. In addition, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS) has created a streamlined process specifically for
military personnel serving on active-duty status or recently discharged. As of
October 1, 2004, members of the U.S. Armed Forces do not pay a fee when filing
for citizenship.

To date, more than 18,000 service members have applied for expedited naturalization.
USCIS has helped nearly 9,000 of those service members become citizens.

Qualifications

A military service member must meet certain requirements and qualifications to
become a U.S. citizen. These include:


Demonstrating
good moral character;


Demonstrating
knowledge of the English language;


Demonstrating
knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics); and


Demonstrating
attachment to the U.S. by taking an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.

Military service members are exempt from other naturalization requirements outlined
in the INA as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
2004.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004

On November 24, 2003 President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization
Act for Fiscal Year 2004. Title XVII (Naturalization and Other Immigration Benefits
for Military Personnel and Families) of that Act contains five sections that pertain
to naturalization requirements and benefits for members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Section 1701, Requirements for naturalization through service in the United
States Armed Forces


A
service member needs only to serve one year of active duty service to qualify
for citizenship. Before this change, the requirement was three years.


A service
member filing an application for citizenship is not charged a fee.


A service
member dishonorably discharged prior to completing five years of service
may have his/her citizenship revoked.


The Secretaries
of Homeland Security, State and Defense will ensure that all aspects of
the naturalization process, including: Citizenship applications, interviews,
oaths, and ceremonies are made available overseas through U.S. embassies,
consulates, and U.S. military installations.

Section 1702, Naturalization benefits for members of the Selected Reserve
of the Ready Reserve


In
addition to service members on active duty, members of the Selected Reserve
of the Ready Reserve are also eligible for naturalization benefits.

Section 1703, Extension of posthumous benefits to surviving spouses, children,
and parents

An alien spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen service member of the
U.S. Armed Forces who dies in combat or as a result of combat can file for
citizenship within two years of that service member’s death.


For immigration
purposes, the applicant will remain an immediate relative of the deceased
service member. This status would be revoked should the spouse remarry.

Section 1704, Expedited process for granting posthumous citizenship to members
of the armed services

A service member who dies in combat or as a result of combat may receive
posthumous citizenship.


The service
member’s next of kin, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary’s
designee with USCIS may make this request on behalf of the service member.


A request
for posthumous citizenship must be made within two years of the service
member’s death or within two years of the enactment of this section
of the law.

Section 1705, Effective date

The amendments made by these provisions take effect as if enacted on September
11, 2001.

Expedited Naturalization Executive Order

On July 3, 2002, President Bush signed the “Expedited Naturalization Executive
Order” calling for the expedited naturalization of aliens and non-citizens
serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during the War on Terrorism. The
Executive Order allows active duty personnel serving on or after September 11,
2001 to immediately file for citizenship. Normally, a military service member
would have to complete one-year of honorable service before qualifying to file
for citizenship. Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes
the President to waive this requirement during periods of military hostilities.

How to Apply

Every military installation has a designated point-of-contact to handle military
naturalization applications. Military service members should use this contact
to help file a complete naturalization application packet. That package will include:
?? Application for Naturalization (USCIS Form N-400) ?? Request for Certification
of Military or Naval Service (USCIS Form N-426) ?? Biographic Information (USCIS
Form G-325B) The complete package is then sent to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center
for expedited processing.

Posthumous Benefits

The INA allows for the awarding of posthumous citizenship to active-duty military
personnel who die while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. In addition, surviving
family members seeking immigration benefits are given special consideration. To
learn more, contact your military point-of-contact or the local district USCIS
office. To date, USCIS has issued posthumous citizenship to 37 service members
stemming from the War on Terrorism.

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