Chapter 3: Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329)

A. General Eligibility through Military Service during Hostilities​

Members of the ​U.S.​ armed forces who serve honorably for any period of time during specifically designated periods of hostilities may be eligible to naturalize.​ [1] See INA 329. In 2009, the DOD authorized the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) pilot program as a recruitment pilot to enlist certain foreign nationals with skills considered to be “vital to national interest.” The pilot program applies to certain health care professionals and individuals fluent in certain foreign languages. A MAVNI enlistee may apply for naturalization upon enlistment. See the DOD MAVNI program fact sheet for further details. One day of qualifying service is sufficient in establishing eligibility.​

The applicant must establish that he or she meets all of the following criteria in order to qualify:​

The applicant may be of any age.​

The applicant must have served honorably ​in the U.S. armed forces during a designated period of hostility.​

The applicant must ​either be an LPR ​or​ have been physically present at the time of enlistment, reenlistment, or extension of service or induction into the U.S. armed forces:​

In the United States or its outlying possessions, including the Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swains Island, or​

On board a public vessel owned or operated by the United States for noncommercial service.​

The applicant must be able to read, write, and speak basic English.​

The applicant must demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government.​

The applicant must demonstrate good moral character for at least one year prior to filing the application until the time of his or her naturalization.​

The applicant must have an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and be well disposed to the good order and happiness of the ​U.S.​ during all relevant periods under the law.​

An applicant who files on the basis of military service during hostilities is exempt from the general naturalization requirements of continuous residence and physical presence.​ [2] See INA 329(b). See 8 CFR 329.2(e).

B. Honorable Service​

Qualifying military service is honorable service in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or active duty service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard. Service in a National Guard Unit may also qualify.​ [3] See Section C, National Guard Service [12 USCIS-PM I.3(C)].

Honorable service means only service in the ​U.S.​ armed forces that is designated as honorable service by the executive department under which the applicant performed that military service.​

Both “Honorable” and “General-Under Honorable Conditions” discharge types qualify as honorable service for immigration purposes. Other discharge types, such as “Other Than Honorable,” do not qualify as honorable service.​

C. National Guard Service​

An applicant filing on the basis of military service during hostilities​ [4] See INA 329. who has National Guard service may qualify if he or she has honorable service in either the U.S. armed forces or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.​ [5] See 8 CFR 329.1. See 10 U.S.C. 10143 for more information on Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. USCIS does not require proof of federal activation for a National Guard applicant if the applicant served in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve during a designated period of hostility.​ [6] The National Guard and Reserve service requirements under INA 329 differ from those under INA 328. See Chapter 2, One Year of Military Service during Peacetime (INA 328), Section C, National Guard Service [12 USCIS-PM I.2(C)].

D. Designated Periods of Hostilities​

The INA and Presidential Executive Orders have designated the following military engagements and ranges of dates as periods of hostilities.​

Designated Periods of Hostilities​

World War I​

April 6, 1917​

→​

November 11, 1918​

World War II​

September 1, 1939​

→​

December 31, 1946​

Korea​

June 25, 1950​

→​

July 1, 1955​

Vietnam​

February 28, 1961​

→​

October 15, 1978​

Persian Gulf​

August 2, 1990​

→​

April 11, 1991​

Enduring Freedom​

September 11, 2001​

→​

Present​

The current period starting on September 11, 2001 will continue to be considered a designated period of hostilities until the President issues an Executive Order to terminate the designation.​

E. Eligibility as Permanent Resident or if Present in United States at Induction or Enlistment​

In general, an applicant who files on the basis of military service during hostilities​ [7] See INA 329. is not required to be an LPR if he or she was physically present at the time of induction, enlistment, reenlistment, or extension of service in the ​U.S.​ armed forces: ​

In the United States, the Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swains Island; or​

On board a public vessel owned or operated by the ​United States​ for noncommercial service.​

In addition, an applicant who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence after enlistment or induction is also ​eligible​ for naturalization under this provision regardless of the place of enlistment or induction.​

F. Conditional Permanent Residence and Naturalization during Hostilities​

If the applicant is a ​conditional permanent resident and is eligible to naturalize on the basis of military service during hostilities​ [8] See INA 329. without being an LPR based on being in the United States during enlistment or induction, the applicant is not required to file or have an approved Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence (​Form I-751​) before his or her Application for Naturalization (​Form N-400​) may be approved.​