Fact Sheet: Naturalization Process for the Military

USCIS issued a helpful fact sheet for members of the U.S.  Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard who qualify for U.S. naturalization.  To read the entire fact sheet, click here.  We have highlighted relevant parts of the fact sheet below.

Qualifications

  • While a member of the U.S. armed forces must meet the general requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States, such as good moral character, some of the other requirements are either reduced or completely waived. Specifically, qualifying service members and certain veterans are not required to demonstrate residence or physical presence in the United States, and are not required to pay an application fee or a biometrics fee to apply for naturalization.  In addition, service members who serve during specifically designated periods of hostilities may not need to be lawful permanent residents.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 extended all aspects of the naturalization process, including naturalization applications, interviews, oaths and ceremonies to members of the U.S. armed forces serving abroad. Before Oct. 1, 2004, service members could only naturalize while physically within the United States.
  • The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 added Sections 319(e) and 322(d) to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which allows certain eligible spouses and children of members of the U.S. armed forces to naturalize abroad without traveling to the United States for any part of the naturalization process.

Service in Wartime (INA Section 329)

  • Members of the military, who serve during specifically designated periods of hostilities, may qualify for naturalization under this provision if they have served honorably in an active duty status for any period of time, and if that service was during a specifically designated period of hostility.
  • Unlike all other provisions for naturalization, a qualifying service member is not required to be a lawful permanent resident to naturalize under this provision if the service member enlisted, or was inducted within the United States or other qualifying geographical area.
  • The Expedited Naturalization Executive Order of 2002 provides for expedited naturalization under this provision to qualified aliens and non-citizen nationals serving honorably in an active-duty status in the U.S. armed forces beginning on Sept. 11, 2001 to the present. This section also covers veterans of designated past wars and conflicts.

Service in Peacetime (INA Section 328)

An individual may qualify for naturalization under this provision if he or she:

  • Served honorably in the military for at least one year
  • Obtained lawful permanent resident status
  • Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.

Assistance to the Military Community

We will post additional information on naturalization for members of the military on our web site as it becomes available.