How Does Naturalization Through Military Service Work?
It’s a viable pathway, but it’s not as simple as signing up for your chosen branch of the armed forces. There are still eligibility requirements you’ll have to meet and steps you’ll have to take in order to successfully complete the process.
Here’s what you need to know.
Advantages of Military Service
Immigrant service members enjoy three major advantages.
- Shorter residency requirements.
- No state of residence requirements.
- Waived application fees.
- Dependents of service members and veterans may also be eligible to apply for citizenship.
The residency requirements are different depending on whether you served in wartime or in peace time.
If you served honorably for a period of one year during peacetime, then you may apply for citizenship. Your branch of the service must designate your service as “honorable,” and if you’ve been discharged it must be an honorable discharge.
If you wait more than 6 months after your discharge to apply, then you must live in the United States for a continual period of at least 5 years before you may apply. If you are still in the military, you can bypass the physical presence and residence requirements.
Periods of Hostility
Anyone who served from September 11, 2001 to the present is considered to have served during a “period of hostility.” Other periods of hostility include:
- April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
- September 1, 1939 to December 13, 1946
- June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955
- February 28, 1961 to October 15, 1978
- August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991
Serving during a period of hostility means waiving all residency and physical presence requirements.
Eligibility for Citizenship
Whether you served or not, you must still meet all of the eligibility requirements for citizenship.
- Must be able to speak, read, understand, and write English.
- Must either be a permanent resident or be physically present in the United States, or on a public vessel owned by the United States at the time of enlistment, re-enlistment, induction, or extension of service.
- Must demonstrate good moral character for at least one year prior to filing through the day you naturalize.
- Must pass the US history and government tests.
- Must demonstrate “an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law, unless waived.”
What if you weren’t enlisted, but served the military as a civilian? The Military Accessions Vital to National Interests (MAVNI) program might give you a pathway to citizenship.
Steps to Attain Citizenship
You’ll need to attend an interview with a USCIS officer. You may bring your immigration attorney to the interview.
Finally, you must take an Oath of Allegiance at an oath naturalization ceremony.
Get Help Today
Don’t assume that military service will make the citizenship process easier. Mistakes may still block you from attaining citizenship, and there might be certain pitfalls that will need to be addressed in your specific case.
Turn to our office to get help. We can help you translate your military service into United States Citizen while ensuring the process goes as smoothly as possible.
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Although it often comes with controversy, immigration into the United States has always played a major role in the strength of its economy. Perhaps no one understands this more than the residents of Philadelphia, where the Liberty Bell still welcomes foreigners to one of the richest historical communities of our country.
Not knowing or understanding the system and laws of the U.S. can be a disadvantage for many foreign immigrants who wish to obtain permanent residency in the United States, either for themselves or for their loved ones. Hykel Law’s Family-Based Immigration Services can lead you through the complicated process to achieve either temporary or permanent residency, depending on your situation.
Are you afraid of deportation? If you are a foreign national involved in the beginning stages of removal proceedings, the deportation attorney at Hykel Law in Philadelphia can help prevent this unfortunate situation. We can evaluate your immigration case and find the best strategy to defend you from removal proceedings to help you stay in the United States.