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:
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
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.
A military service member must meet certain requirements and qualifications to
become a U.S. citizen. These include:
Military service members are exempt from other naturalization requirements outlined
in the INA as amended by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year
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
Section 1702, Naturalization benefits for members of the Selected Reserve
of the Ready Reserve
Section 1703, Extension of posthumous benefits to surviving spouses, children,
Section 1704, Expedited process for granting posthumous citizenship to members
of the armed services
Section 1705, Effective date
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.
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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