Service members and certain veterans of the United States armed forces may apply for citizenship through special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Qualifying military service is generally in one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. In addition, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employs an expedited application and naturalization process for qualifying members of the military and their surviving dependents.
A member of the U.S. armed forces must meet the requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States. This includes demonstrating:
- Good moral character;
- Knowledge of the English language;
- Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics); and
- Attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
Qualified members of the U.S. armed forces are exempt from other naturalization requirements, including residency and physical presence in the United States.
Service in Peacetime
Section 328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act applies to all members of the U.S. armed forces or those already discharged from service. An individual may qualify for naturalization if he or she has:
- 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.
Service in Wartime
On July 3, 2002, President Bush signed the “Expedited Naturalization Executive Order” calling for the expedited naturalization of aliens and non-citizens serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces during the War on Terrorism. The Executive Order allows qualified military personnel who have served honorably on active duty in the U.S. armed forces or as a member of the Selected Ready Reserve on or after Sept. 11, 2001 to immediately file for citizenship. Normally, a military service member would have to complete one-year of honorable service before qualifying to file for citizenship. Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorizes the President to waive this requirement during periods of military hostilities. This section also covers veterans of designated past wars and conflicts.
As a small statement of thank you, military personnel have free access to our Naturalization Study Room. The below web form will give you 7 days access, please just email for an extension from any .mil email account.