Citizenship for Military Family Members
Spouses of U.S. service members may be eligible for expedited naturalization outside the United States. Children of service members may also be eligible for naturalization or may be eligible to automatically acquire citizenship.
For information on the general naturalization requirements and procedures for spouses of U.S. citizens who do not qualify for expedited naturalization outside the United States, see the Citizenship section of our website. For general information on acquired or derived citizenship for children of service members, go to our Citizenship Through Parents page. For information on citizenship for adopted children of service members, go to our U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child page.
For information on citizenship for surviving spouses or children of deceased service members who died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by military service, see the Survivor Benefits for Relatives of U.S. Citizen Military Members page.
Expedited Naturalization for Spouses of Service Members
Spouses of U.S. citizen service members who are (or will be) stationed outside the United States may be eligible for expedited naturalization in the U.S. under section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
To apply for naturalization under INA 319(b), you generally must:
- Be age 18 or older;
- Establish your spouse is a U.S. citizen who is, or will be, regularly stationed abroad as a U.S. service member for a period of one year or more;
- Be authorized to accompany your spouse abroad by your spouse’s official orders;
- Be present in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident at the time of your naturalization application interview;
- Be present in the U.S. at the time of naturalization;
- Declare in good faith upon naturalization an intent to reside abroad with your U.S. citizen spouse and to reside in the U.S. immediately upon your spouse’s termination of service abroad;
- Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
- Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics); and
- Have been, and continue to be, a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law.
For additional information on eligibility USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part I - Military Members and Their Families.
Military spouses who are on their active-duty spouse’s Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders must contact the Military Help Line at 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645, TTY: 800-877-8339) or firstname.lastname@example.org to let the team know they are moving according to military orders and, therefore, are requesting expedited processing. This is a case-by-case review and we do not automatically grant it to spouses. In most situations, we route all military spouses through the normal processing.
We may also consider expedited processing in other unique cases (for example, if a U.S. service member is deploying and needs to update their family care plan). However, we cannot guarantee that we will grant every expedite request.
Overseas Naturalization for Spouses of Service Members
Under section 319(e)(2) of the INA and 8 U.S.C. section 1443a, a lawful permanent resident (LPR) who is married to a U.S. service member can naturalize outside the United States without traveling to the U.S. In general, to be eligible for naturalization abroad under section 319(e)(2) of the INA and 8 U.S.C. section 1443a, you must:
- Be the spouse of a U.S. service member who is stationed outside the United States in that capacity;
- Be authorized to accompany your spouse outside the United States by your spouse’s official orders;
- Reside outside the United States in marital union with your spouse; and
- Meet the requirements of either section 316(a) or 319(a) of the INA at the time you file your naturalization application.
Section 316(a) applies to you if you have been:
- An LPR for at least five years immediately before the date you file the naturalization application; and
- Physically present in the U.S. for periods totaling at least two and a half years.
Section 319(a) applies to you if:
- You have been an LPR and have resided in the United States for at least three continuous years immediately before the date you file your naturalization application;
- You have lived in marital union with your U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years immediately before you file your naturalization application;
- Your U.S citizen spouse has been a U.S. citizen for at least three years immediately before you file your naturalization application; and
- You have been physically present in the U.S. for periods totaling at least 18 months out of the three years immediately preceding the date you file your application. Time spent living in marital union with your spouse who is abroad under military orders counts toward the continuous residence and physical presence requirements.
You can file for naturalization up to 90 calendar days before you meet the time requirement for being an LPR. For example, if you are filing under section 319(a), you can file when you have been an LPR for two years and 275 days. However, if you file early under section 319(a):
- You must have been married to your U.S. citizen spouse for at least three years at the time you file;
- Your spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for at least three years at the time you file; and
- You must meet all other eligibility requirements (such as good moral character).
Use our early filing calculator to determine your earliest filing date for naturalizations. For more guidance on naturalization for qualifying spouses of U.S. military personnel, including a quick reference chart on overseas naturalization and filing tips, please see our policy manual.
Naturalization or Citizenship for Children of Service Members
Certain children of U.S. service members or U.S. government employees, and children of their spouses, may automatically acquire citizenship under section 320 of the INA. This may include children of parents who are stationed and residing outside of the United States. For additional information on eligibility USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 4, Automatic Acquisition of Citizenship after Birth (INA 320).
Certain children of service members who have not already acquired citizenship automatically under INA 320 can become naturalized U.S. citizens under section 322 of the INA without having to travel to the U.S. for any part of the naturalization process. For additional information on eligibility USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part H, Children of U.S. Citizens, Chapter 5, Child Residing Outside of the United States (INA 322).
Adjusting Status for Spouses for Service Members
Generally, spouses need to have lawful permanent resident status before naturalizing. To apply for adjustment of status the spouse must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and the service member must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, including the biometrics fee.
If the spouse of a service member receives an adjustment of status interview appointment notice while the service member is deployed, the USCIS office will still conduct the interview. The spouse should bring evidence of the service member’s assignment (such as a copy of their orders or a letter from their commander) along with any other requested evidence listed on the appointment notice.
For more information, see our Overseas Processing page.