citizenship requirements for us armed forces military

Citizenship Requirements for U.S. Armed Forces

U.S. Citizenship Requirements for U.S. Armed Forces

As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be eligible for naturalization after just one year of military service. This is a significant benefit (as it normally requires five years as a permanent resident before applying for citizenship). It’s only available to military members that have served the United States with honor.

To qualify, you must have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year. If you’ve separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, you must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization within six months of an honorable discharge. (There is expedited citizenship for U.S. Armed Forces and families — Learn more here.) The Immigration and Nationality Act (Section 328(a)) details all of the citizenship requirements for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. We break it down in simple terms here.

Citizenship Requirements for U.S. Armed Forces

As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be eligible for naturalization after just one year of military service. This is a significant benefit (as it normally requires five years as a permanent resident before applying for citizenship). It’s only available to military members that have served the United States with honor.

To qualify, you must have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year. If you’ve separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, you must file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization within six months of an honorable discharge. (There is expedited citizenship for U.S. Armed Forces and families — Learn more here.) The Immigration and Nationality Act (Section 328(a)) details all of the citizenship requirements for a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. We break it down in simple terms here.

An applicant for naturalization must meet the following citizenship requirements:
To apply under this eligibility category, you must be 18 years of age or older.
You may only use this eligibility category if you have an honorable service record or have been honorably discharged. You must have served for at least one year in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard.

If you have separated from the U.S. Armed Forces, N-400, Application for Naturalization, must be filed within 6 months of the honorable discharge.

If you were discharged for other than honorable reasons, you are not excluded from naturalization. However, most likely you would not be able to naturalize by using the U.S. Armed Forces eligibility category. You would need to prepare N-400, Application for Naturalization, as a 5-year permanent resident or as a permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen for 3 years.

Most non-citizens that apply for U.S. citizenship through naturalization must be permanent residents before filing N-400, Application for Naturalization. However, members of the military must only be permanent residents by the day of the interview.

The continuous residence and physical presence requirements are waived.

You must be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (also known as civics). CitizenPath can show you How to Prepare for the U.S. Citizenship Test & Interview.

USCIS also provides accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Learn more on the USCIS Exceptions & Accommodations page.

Everybody makes mistakes; you aren’t expected to be perfect. The United States wants new citizens to be of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law. Examples of things that might demonstrate a lack of good moral character include but aren’t limited to:
  • Any crime against a person with intent to harm
  • Any crime against property or the Government that involves “fraud” or evil intent
  • Two or more crimes for which the aggregate sentence was 5 years or more
  • Violating any controlled substance law of the United States, any State, or any foreign country
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Illegal gambling
  • Prostitution
  • Polygamy (marriage to more than one person at the same time)
  • Lying to gain immigration benefits
  • Failing to pay court-ordered child support or alimony payments
  • Confinement in jail, prison, or similar institution for which the total confinement was 180 days or more during the past 5 years
  • Failing to complete any probation, parole, or suspended sentence before you apply for naturalization
  • Terrorist acts
  • Persecution of anyone because of race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or social group

If you are concerned that your moral character may be in question due to even a minor incident, you should consult an immigration attorney before filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

5-Year Permanent Resident

If you’ve been a permanent resident for at least five years, you may be eligible to naturalize now.

Learn More

Married to a U.S. Citizen

If you’re a permanent resident that’s married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to naturalize after just three years.

Learn More

Form N400, Application for Naturalization


CitizenPath is the leading online service for helping you prepare USCIS Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Our self-help software will guide you through the application with simple instructions and check it for common mistakes.

It’s a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we’ve got your back — CitizenPath guarantees that your application will be accepted by USCIS.

For people with straight-forward cases (no arrests and immigration violations), filing an N-400 can be done without a lawyer. Yet, each year, USCIS rejects or denies thousands of applications.

us citizenship requirements for military
each year an average of
0,667
N-400 forms are filed*

out of these
0,333
N-400 Forms are rejected*

and another
0,852
get denied*

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