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Expedited Naturalization for U.S. Military Personnel

 

U.S. Immigration laws recognize the important sacrifices made by non-U.S. citizen members of the U.S. armed forces. Members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for citizenship, to include expedited and overseas processing, under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for citizenship by qualifying for naturalization through military service under Section 328 or 329 of the INA.  Additionally, the INA provides for posthumous naturalization under section 329A.

 

General Requirements

 

To qualify for citizenship under U.S. immigration laws, the qualifying military service must generally be in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.

 

Naturalization through One Year of Qualifying Service During “Peacetime”

 

Generally, a person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces at any time may be eligible to apply for naturalization under section 328 of the INA.  The military community sometimes refers to this as “peacetime naturalization.”

 

In general, an applicant for naturalization under Section 328 of the INA must:

 

  • Be age 18 or olderHave served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least 1 year and, if separated from the U.S. armed forces, have been separated honorably

  • Be a permanent resident at the time of examination on the naturalization application

  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English

  • Have a knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics)

  • Have been a person of good moral character during all relevant periods under the law

  • Have an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law

  • Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years and have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application, UNLESS the applicant has filed an application while still in the service or within 6 months of separation.  In the latter case, the applicant is not required to meet these residence and physical presence requirements.

 

Naturalization through Qualifying Service during Periods of Hostilities

 

Generally, members of the U.S. armed forces who serve honorably for any period of time (even 1 day) during specifically designated periods of hostilities (see below) are eligible for naturalization under section 329 of the INA through such military service.

 

In general, an applicant for naturalization under INA 329 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 during a designated period of hostilities and, if separated from the U.S. armed forces, have been separated honorably

  • Have been lawfully admitted as a permanent resident at any time after enlistment or induction, OR have been physically present in the United States or certain territories at the time of enlistment or induction (regardless of whether the applicant was admitted as a permanent resident)

  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English

  • Have a knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics)

  • Have been a person of good moral character during all relevant periods under the law

  • Have an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law

 

There is no minimum age requirement for an applicant under this section.

 

The designated periods of hostilities are:

  • April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918

  • September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946

  • June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955

  • February 28, 1961 to October 15, 1978

  • August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991

  • September 11, 2001 until the present.  The current designated period of hostilities starting on September 11, 2001, will terminate when the President issues an Executive Order terminating the period.

 

Note: current members of the U.S. armed forces who qualify for naturalization under sections 328 or 329 of the INA can proceed with their naturalization application either in the United States or overseas.  Application Processing Service members are not charged filing or biometrics fees.

 

Service members should complete the applications stated below to apply for naturalization:

  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization

  • Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (establishes periods of honorable service certified by the military)

Note: Every military installation should have a designated point-of-contact (POC) to handle your application and certify your Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426). You should inquire through your chain of command to find out who this person is so they can help you with your application packet.

 

Posthumous Citizenship for Military Members

 

Generally, individuals who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces and who died as a result of injury or disease incurred while serving in an active duty status during specified periods of military hostilities, as listed above, may be eligible for posthumous citizenship under section 329A of the INA.  Form N-644, Application for Posthumous Citizenship, must be filed on behalf of the deceased service member within 2 years of his or her death.  If approved, a Certificate of Citizenship will be issued in the name of the deceased veteran establishing posthumously that he or she was a U.S. citizen on the date of his or her death.