MILITARY SERVICE AND RESIDENCY
Becoming a U.S. citizen is a challenging journey. Even after spending years before getting the green card, you still need to wait for another five years before you can also apply for citizenship if your spouse is not a citizen.
If you join the U.S. military, you can shorten that process significantly. In fact, you can apply for citizenship after just one year of service. Every year, thousands of foreign-born service members and their family members become the U.S. naturalized citizens. Although military service can expedite your path to U.S. citizenship, you need to be a U.S. permanent resident to be eligible because you can’t enlist without permanent residency.
If you meet all the requirements of either section 328 or 329 of the INA, you may apply for Naturalization by filing Form N-400 under the section that applies to you.
- Good moral character
- Proficiency in the English language (Speaking, Writing and Reading)
- Knowledge of U.S civics and history
- Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
- Military Service during Peacetime
Section 328 of the INA applies to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces or those already discharged from service. To establish eligibility under INA 328, you must meet the following requirements:
You must have served honorably, during a period of peacetime, in the U.S. armed forces for one year.
You must be a lawful permanent resident at the time of your naturalization interview
Military Service during Wartime
INA 329 applies to all current military service members or veterans who served honorably in active-duty status or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve during any of the periods of armed conflict listed below:
- September 1, 1939 – December 31, 1946
- June 25, 1950 – July 1, 1955
- February 28, 1961 – October 15, 1978
- August 2, 1990 – April 11, 1991
- September 11, 2001 – present
Benefits of applying for citizenship through military service
1.Reduction of the 3 or 5 years Lawful Permanent Resident Rule
Usually, applicants must reside within the United States as a lawful permanent resident for five consecutive years, or three years if they are married to a U.S. citizen, before applying to become a Citizen of the United States. At most, eligible foreign-born service members need only one year of honorable service before they can apply for Naturalization.
2.No state-of-residence requirement
Civilian applying for Naturalization must have lived in the state or service district where they file their Form N-400 for a minimum of three months. This requirement is waived for foreign-born military service members.
3.Waived application fees
From naturalization application and fingerprinting fees, civilian applicants pay up to $800 to become a U.S. citizen. Foreign-born service members are exempted from paying the application fee, but their spouses must pay the price.
Steps for Application for Naturalization
- Be eligible for citizenship. Use the Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet (Form M-480).
- Complete Form N-426 Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Must be completed and certified by the chain of command)
- Provide Biometrics.
- Interview in person with an assigned USCIS officer at a designated location where your credentials are going to be reviewed, also test U.S. civic and history, spoken and written English.