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Naturalization Process For The Military
USCIS recognizes the important sacrifices made by non-U.S. citizen members of the United States armed forces and their families and is committed to processing their naturalization applications in a timely and efficient manner while providing exemplary customer service, maintaining the integrity of the immigration system, and the security of the process. Qualifying military service is generally in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
While a member of the U.S. armed forces must meet some of the general requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States, such as good moral character, some of the requirements are either reduced or completely waived.
Specifically, qualifying service members and certain veterans are not required to pay an application fee or a biometrics fee to apply for naturalization, and are not required demonstrate residence or physical presence in the United States. Additionally, service members who serve during specifically designated periods of hostilities may not need to be lawful permanent residents.
Additionally, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 extended all aspects of the naturalization process, including naturalization applications, interviews, oaths and ceremonies to members of the U.S.armed forces serving overseas. Before Oct. 1, 2004, military service members could only naturalize while physically within the United States.
Finally, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 added Sections 319(e) and 322(d) to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), allowing certain eligible spouses and children of members of the U.S. armed forces to naturalize abroad without traveling to the United States for any part of the naturalization process.
Service in Peacetime
Section 328 of the INA applies to all members of the U.S. armed forces or those already discharged from service. An individual may qualify for naturalization under this provision if he or she has:
Service in Wartime
Section 329 of the INA applies to members of the U.S.armed forces who serve during specifically designated periods of hostilities. This section is sometimes referred to as wartime naturalization. An individual may qualify for naturalization under this provision if he or she has:
Unlike all other provisions for naturalization, a qualifying service member is not required to be a lawful permanent resident to naturalize under this provision if the service member enlisted or was inducted within the United Statesor other qualifying geographical area.
The Expedited Naturalization Executive Order of 2002 provides for expedited naturalization under this provision to qualified aliens and non-citizen nationals serving honorably in an active-duty status in the U.S.armed forces beginning on Sept. 11, 2001 to the present. This section also covers veterans of designated past wars and conflicts.
Assistance to the Military Community
The service member’s naturalization packet will include:
Members of the military applying under sections 328 or 329 of the INA are not required to pay a fee for their naturalization application.
Five fingerprinting methods are available to service members:
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/01/2010