One way to obtain citizenship is naturalization through military service. Requirements will vary based on whether time in the military was served during peacetime or during periods of hostility. Generally, the applicants must show at least one year of qualifying service. These specific requirements are governed by special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Applicants enjoy certain benefits that are not offered to other types of applicants. Some benefits are that service members and their families may gain citizenship even if they don’t meet all the general requirements, service members may not have to pay any application or biometric fees, and the process may be expedited. Service members will need to demonstrate that they meet either section 328 or 329 of the INA. They will then fill out the Citizenship application form.
A major benefit of naturalization through military service is that members of the U.S. forces and their families may be eligible for expedited or overseas naturalization. Active-duty service members and families may be interviewed and naturalized abroad at certain U.S. embassies, consulates and military installations. In addition, families of U.S. citizen service members who are or will be stationed abroad may be eligible for expedited naturalization.
USCIS also offers several discretionary options for military members, enlistees and their families on a case-by-case basis. Some of these options include parole in place or deferred action. It is also important to note that immediate family members of a U.S. armed forces member who passed away from combat-related injuries from serving on active duty may be eligible for U.S. citizenship.
While obtaining naturalization through military service has benefits, such as overseas processing, it is still complicated. Recent policy changes have made this process even more nuanced. We recommend consulting an attorney if you or a family member are thinking of applying for citizenship. Berardi Immigration Law handles numerous citizenship applications, and our attorneys would be happy to help you with this important decision!