expedited citizenship for military personnel

Expedited Citizenship for Military Personnel

Expedited Citizenship for U.S. Armed Forces

How Certain Military Personnel Can Naturalize Quickly

In July 2002, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that made non-citizen members of the armed forces eligible for expedited citizenship in the United States. Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) now authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces, recently discharged service members, and their spouses.

According to USCIS, over 100,000 members of the U.S. armed forces have been naturalized since September 2002. And over 10,000 gained their U.S. citizenship in naturalization ceremonies abroad such as the ceremony pictured above in an Iraqi palace.

expedited citizenship for military personnel

Expedited U.S. Citizenship for Military Personnel

Military personnel enjoy some tremendous immigration benefits compared to their civilian counterparts. A person who is serving in the U.S. armed forces or was recently honorably discharged (within 6 months) may be eligible to apply for expedited citizenship through naturalization; the military community sometimes refers to this as “peacetime naturalization.” The immigration benefits include:

  • Continuous residence requirement is waived

    While most naturalization applicants need 5 years as a permanent resident (or 3 years if married to a U.S. citizen spouse), military personnel can obtain U.S. citizenship much more quickly. The continuous residence requirement is waived. Learn more >>
  • Physical presence requirement is waived

    While most naturalization applicants are required to be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months (18 months if married to a U.S. citizen spouse), military personnel can obtain U.S. citizenship much more quickly. The physical presence requirement is waived. Learn more >>
  • USCIS filing fee is waived

    Naturalization will cost most civilian permanent residents $725 ($640 USCIS filing fee + $85 biometric fee). The fees are waived for military service members.

What’s more, a service member only needs to be a permanent resident by the date of the citizenship interview. In general an individual in the U.S. armed forces may qualify for naturalization if he or she meets all of the following requirements (§328 of the INA):

  • Must be age 18 or older
  • Has good moral character
  • Has the ability to read, write and speak the English language
  • Has knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics)
  • Is ready and willing to take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status before the citizenship interview/test
  • Served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year
  • Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation

However, some service members’ naturalization can be further expedited (§329 of the INA) if serving in periods of hostility. The applicant must have served honorably in active-duty status, or as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, for any amount of time (even one day) during a designated period of hostilities and, if separated from the U.S. armed forces, have been separated honorably. We are currently in a designated period of hostility (September 11, 2001 – present) that will terminate when the President issues an Executive Order terminating the period. For additional information about expedited citizenship, see the USCIS website’s section for Citizenship for Military Members.

Expedited U.S. Citizenship for Family Members of Military Personnel

Spouses of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization. And children of service members may be eligible for overseas naturalization.

Spouses of U.S. citizen service members who are (or will be) deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization in the United States. In general, an applicant for naturalization must meet the following requirements (§319(b) of the INA):

  • Must be age 18 or older
  • Has good moral character
  • Has the ability to read, write and speak the English language
  • Has knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics)
  • Is ready and willing to take an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status before the citizenship interview/test
  • Establish that his or her U.S. citizen spouse is deployed abroad as a service member
  • Declare in good faith upon naturalization an intent to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen spouse and to reside in the U.S. immediately upon the citizen spouse’s termination of service abroad

For additional information, see the USCIS website’s section on Citizenship for Spouses and Children of Military Members.

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

Military personnel and their spouses use Form N-400, (Application for Naturalization) to apply for U.S. citizenship. The form starts a review process of your entire immigration history. Each year, USCIS rejects or denies thousands of N-400 applications that don't satisfy the citizenship requirements. Therefore, it's important to get it right.

USCIS has established a toll-free military help line, 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645), exclusively for members of the military and their families. USCIS customer service specialists are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (CST), excluding federal holidays.

USCIS.GOV FOR MILITARY

How CitizenPath Helps You Apply for Naturalization

CitizenPath's self-directed service makes preparing USCIS forms easy. Designed by lawyers, our platform will help you eliminate the common errors that create delays, rejections and even denials. The low-cost service also provides alerts if you answer a question in a way that might be a problem. We'll make sure you meet all the citizenship requirements before applying. Most people can prepare the naturalization package within a couple of hours.

The online service is a powerful, do-it-yourself tool that puts you in control. And we've got your back -- CitizenPath provides live customer support and guarantees that USCIS will approve your application. Best of all, military personnel get 50% off our regular price.

n-400 package - expedited citizenship for military
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