The U.S. government thanks many of the immigrants who serve our country with a streamlined citizenship process. If you are an immigrant who served with the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible for expedited naturalization through military service. To learn more about this program and your eligibility, speak to an immigration lawyer at Solano Law Firm today.
Thousands of Immigrants Are Serving in the U.S Armed Forces
In 2002, President George W. Bush signed an executive order that expedites, or speeds up, naturalization through military service. At the time, Bush wanted to reward foreign-born soldiers who were helping with the fight against global terrorism and confirm their importance to the United States.
According to some experts, roughly 8,000 immigrants sign up for the U.S. military each year. They have served during peacetime and in combat — with some immigrant soldiers paying the ultimate price with their lives. Between 2001 and 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved more than 129,500 service members’ applications for citizenship. This includes immigrants from more than 30 countries, including Mexico, China, Cuba, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, and the United Arab Emirates.
Can Any Immigrant Sign Up for the U.S. Military?
It’s important to note that not everyone is eligible for military service, and most undocumented immigrants cannot enlist in the armed services. This includes DACA recipients or DREAMers. Instead, immigrants must have legal permanent residency or meet other strict requirements.
Do I Qualify for Naturalization Through Military Service?
The eligibility requirements for expedited naturalization through military service vary, depending on whether you served during peacetime or in a combat zone. Typically, you must show that you:
- Honorably served for at least one year in the U.S. armed forces;
- Have a green card or are otherwise lawfully residing in the United States at the time of your application for citizenship;
- Meet shorter residence and physical presence rules than most immigrants;
- Have a good moral character and support the U.S. Constitution;
- Can read, speak, and write in English; and
- Can demonstrate your understanding of U.S. history and government.
If your service occurred during a conflict or hostility, some of these requirements may be reduced. USCIS considers service during World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and from 9/11/2002 to the present to be periods of armed conflict.
Additionally, your spouse and minor children may also be eligible for expedited citizenship. If you are a military spouse whose partner died in active duty, you may also be eligible for special immigration programs.
If you’re unsure whether you and your family qualify for expedited naturalization through military service, it’s best to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. The team at Solano Law Firm would love to meet with you and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for a consultation.
How Do I Apply for Naturalization Through Military Service?
To apply for U.S. citizenship, military personnel still have to complete a series of forms, pass tests and security checks, and participate in an interview. These forms may include:
- Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
- Request for Certification of Military or Naval Personnel (Form N-426)
- Other documentation relating to your military service
Thankfully, USCIS waives many of its fees relating to your naturalization through military service. You can also complete the naturalization process overseas, meeting with U.S. Embassy staff for interviews and other required steps.
While the U.S. government speeds up naturalization through military service, it’s still a complicated and nuanced process. USCIS still carefully studies each armed service member’s information, looking for disqualifying information. If you miss a deadline, make an error on your application, or do not fully prepare for your interview, you may lose your chance at U.S. citizenship. There have also been reports of the Armed Forces suddenly discharging immigrant service members in recent years.
Many military bases have USCIS staff onsite who can provide you with these forms and basic information about naturalization through military service. However, these USCIS employees cannot provide you with legal advice. To get personalized advice and guidance — or get help completing your forms and preparing for your interview — you’ll need to consult with an immigration lawyer.
Military Families May Have Other Immigration Options as Well
In addition to expedited U.S. citizenship, the USCIS also offers immigrant military families also other special immigration programs. For example, immigrant service members may qualify for a deferred action program or parole in place if they face deportation or other immigration actions. During a period of deferred action, immigration authorities will treat you as if you have a lawful immigration status and you can remain in the United States.
Military deferred action programs are also available to service members’ family, including spouses, children, and parents. To learn more about deferred action programs for military families and personnel, contact Solano Law Firm today.
Request a Free Naturalization Through Military Service Consultation
At Solano Law Firm, we love helping military personnel and their families achieve their dreams of naturalization through military service. Our founder is a military spouse and lives the sacrifices and challenges that millions of military families live and face on a daily basis. Our team of knowledgeable immigration attorneys works closely with our clients. We guide them through this complicated process, educate them about their rights, and provide emotional support. If you’d like to learn more about your eligibility for citizenship, contact us today. Initial screenings are always free and confidential.