Chapter 2 - One Year of Military Service during Peacetime (INA 328)

A. General Eligibility through One Year of Military Service during Peacetime

A person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for one year at any time may be eligible to apply for naturalization, which is sometimes referred to as “peacetime naturalization.” [1] While some of the general naturalization requirements apply to qualifying members or veterans of the U.S. armed forces seeking to naturalize based on one year of service, [2] other requirements may not apply or are reduced. 

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

  • The applicant must be 18 years of age or older.

  • The applicant must have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year.

  • The applicant must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) at the time of examination on the naturalization application.

  • The applicant must meet certain residence and physical presence requirements.

  • The applicant must demonstrate an ability to understand English including an ability to read, write, and speak English.

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

  • The applicant must demonstrate good moral character for at least five years 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.

B. Honorable Service

Qualifying military service is honorable active or reserve service in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, or service in a National Guard unit. 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

Honorable service as a member of the National Guard is limited to service in a National Guard unit during such time as the unit is federally recognized as a reserve component of the U.S. armed forces. This applies to applicants for naturalization on the basis of one year of military service. [3] 

D. Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements

An applicant who files on the basis of one year of military service while he or she is still serving in the U.S. armed forces or within six months of an honorable discharge is exempt from the residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization. [4] 

An applicant who files six months or more from his or her separation from the U.S. armed forces must have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years. In addition, the applicant must have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application. [5] However, any honorable service within the five years immediately preceding the date of filing the application will be considered towards residence and physical presence within the United States. [6] 

An applicant with military service who does not qualify on the basis of one year of military service [7] may be eligible under another non-military naturalization provision. The period that the applicant has resided outside of the United States on official military orders does not break his or her continuous residence. USCIS will treat such time abroad as time in the United States. [8] 


1. [^] See INA 328.

2. [^] See INA 316(a) for the general naturalization requirements. See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements [12 USCIS-PM D].

3. [^] See INA 328. The National Guard and Reserve service requirements under INA 329 differ from those under INA 328. See Chapter 3, Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329), Section C, National Guard Service [12 USCIS-PM I.3(C)].

4. [^] See INA 328. See 8 CFR 328.2.

5. [^] See INA 316(a) and INA 328(d). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements [12 USCIS-PM D].

6. [^] See INA 328(d).

7. [^] See INA 328

8. [^] Special provisions also exist regarding the “place of residence” for applicants who are serving in the U.S. armed forces but who do not qualify for naturalization through the military provisions. See 8 CFR 316.5(b). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 6, Jurisdiction, Place of Residence, and Early Filing [12 USCIS-PM D.6]. 

8 CFR 316.5(b)(6) - Residence for certain spouses of military personnel

8 CFR 316.6 - Physical presence for certain spouses of military personnel

8 U.S.C. 1443a - Overseas naturalization for service members and their qualifying spouses and children

INA 101(f) - Definition of good moral character

INA 312, 8 CFR 312 - Educational requirements for naturalization

INA 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

INA 328, 8 CFR 328 - Naturalization through peacetime military service for one year

INA 332, 8 CFR 332 - Naturalization administration, executive functions


Legislation Assisting Military Members and their Families Obtain Immigration Benefits

Appendix: Legislation Assisting Military Members and their Families Obtain Immigration Benefits

The table below provides some of the major legislative amendments that have aimed at assisting qualified military personnel and their eligible family members to become U.S. citizens or to acquire other immigration benefits, or both.

Major Legislative Amendments Assisting Military Members and their Eligible Relatives to Become U.S. Citizens or to Acquire Other Immigration Benefits

Act of May 9, 1918 (40 Stat. 512)

  • Accorded World War I servicemen certain exemptions from the then existing naturalization requirements

  • First statute to provide for overseas processing; however, petitions that were filed and not acted upon by the courts were declared invalid before May 25, 1932 [1]

Modifications of 1918 Act [2]

  • Under certain circumstances resident aliens who had departed from the United States and had served honorable in the military or naval forces of an allied country during World War I were granted special naturalization

Second War Powers Act of March 27, 1942 (amending Nationality Act of 1940)

  • Provided for the expeditious naturalization of members of the U.S. armed forces serving in the United States and abroad

  • Provided for the naturalization of non-citizens serving during the war; the law permitted naturalization of those who did not meet requirements

  • Section 702, authorized the actual naturalization of World War II servicemen outside the United States

  • First time the Service had administrative authority to conduct naturalizations

Legislation of December 7, 1942 (amending Nationality Act of 1940)

  • Addition of section 323a

  • Granted special naturalization privileges to World War I veterans

  • Embraced persons who served with the United States military or naval forces at any time after April 20, 1898, and before July 5, 1902 (Spanish-American War), as well as persons who served on the Mexican border between June 1916 and April 1917 as members of the Regular Army or National Guard (expired December 8, 1943)

Act of June 1, 1948; Immigration and Nationality Act

  • Added section 324A to the Act of October 14, 1940 (Nationality Act of 1940)

  • Revised, modified, and made permanent the earlier provisions for the expeditious naturalization of persons who served honorably in the United States armed forces during either World War I or II

Lodge Act, June 30, 1950 (64 Stat. 316)

  • Was periodically extended during the 1950s, finally expiring on July 1, 1959

  • The Act authorized naturalization under INA 329 of an alien who enlisted or reenlisted overseas under the terms of the Act; subsequently entered the United States, American Samoa, Swains Island, or the Canal Zone pursuant to military orders; completed five years of service; and was honorably discharged

Korean Hostilities; Act of June 30, 1953 (Pub. L. 86)

  • Provided for the expeditious judicial naturalization of aliens, upon completion of at least 90 days' active and honorable service in the United States Armed Forces during a specified period (June 25, 1950 - July 1, 1955) extending beyond the termination date of the Korean conflict

  • Under the statute, all petitions had to be filed before January 1, 1956 

Vietnam Hostilities Act of October 24, 1968 (82 Stat. 1343)

  • Including Vietnam Hostilities to add as qualifying, service during a period beginning February 28, 1961, and ending on the termination fixed by the President

  • By Executive Order 12081, September 18, 1978, the President terminated the period of Vietnam hostilities as of October 15, 1978

  • Allowed the designation by executive order such periods when the armed forces of the United States are engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force

Grenada 15 Executive Order 12582 (February 2, 1987) [3]

  • Although President Reagan designated the Grenada campaign as a period of hostilities, a federal court invalidated it entirely because, in contravention of statutory guidelines for such designations, the executive order attempted to limit the expedited naturalization benefit to persons who served in certain geographic areas and the record showed that the President would not have designated the campaign as a period of hostilities without the geographic limitations

Naturalization of Natives of the Philippines (WWII Service), Sec. 405 of Pub. L. 101-649

  • Addressed by Congress in 1990 by amending INA 329 (IMMACT90)

  • Such veterans were exempted from the requirement of having been admitted to lawful permanent residence to the United States or having enlisted or reenlisted in the United States

  • Subsequent amendments enabled naturalization processing to be conducted in the Philippines

  • Only applied to applications filed by February 2, 1995

Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000

  • For Hmong guerilla units that aided the U.S. military during the Vietnam War era

  • Provided an exemption from the English language requirement and special consideration for civics testing for Laotian refugees who supported the U.S. armed forces as members of guerrilla or irregular forces in Laos during the Vietnam War period of hostilities

  • Only applied to naturalization applications filed by a veteran or spouse, within three years after May 26, 2000, or by a veteran’s widow within three years after November 1, 2000

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Pub. L. 108-136)

  • Pub. L. 108-136 was enacted on November 24, 2003 and amended certain military-related immigration provisions of the INA, to include:

  • Reduced the required period of military service from three years to one year under INA 328 

  • Exempted all fees from naturalization applications filed under INA 328 and 329 by eligible service members and certain veterans 

  • Added provision that citizenship obtained through INA 328 and 329 may be revoked if the person is separated from the U.S. armed forces under other than honorable conditions before the person has served for a period or periods aggregating five years 

  • Added under 8 U.S.C. 1443a that DHS must ensure that any filings, interviews, oath ceremonies, or other proceedings relating to naturalization of service members and certain military family members are available abroad through U.S. embassies, consulates, and U.S. military installations overseas as practical 

  • Extended benefits under INA 329(a) to those who serve or served as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve 

  • Extended certain immigration benefits to surviving spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizen service members (including those granted citizenship posthumously under INA 329(a) [4] 

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Pub. L. 110-181)

  • Pub. L. 110-181 was enacted on January 28, 2008 and amended certain military-related immigration provisions of the INA focused on qualifying spouses or children of members of the U.S. armed forces, to include:

  • Added INA 284(b) to make clear that the lawful permanent resident status of a service member’s spouse or child is not jeopardized because the spouse or child resided abroad, as authorized by official orders, with the service member. This provision clarifies that USCIS must not treat such absences as abandonment or relinquishment of the spouse or child’s lawful permanent resident (LPR) status [5]

  • Added INA 319(e) to allow the LPR spouse of a service member to count any qualifying time spent abroad on official orders as continuous residence and physical presence in the United States. Also permits the spouse to complete the naturalization process overseas

  • Added INA 322(d) to allow the U.S. citizen parent and service member of a child filing for naturalization to count time abroad under military orders as physical presence in the United States. Also permits the child to complete the naturalization process overseas

Kendell Frederick Citizenship Assistance Act (KFCAA) (Pub. L. 110-251)

  • The KFCAA was enacted on June 26, 2008 

  • Requires DHS to use the fingerprints provided by an individual at the time the individual enlisted in the U.S. armed forces (referred to as “OPM” or “enlistment” fingerprints) or fingerprints the applicant previously submitted to USCIS for another application to satisfy the fingerprint requirement

  • If DHS determines that new biometrics would result in more timely and effective adjudication of the individual’s naturalization application, DHS must inform the applicant of this determination and provide the applicant with information on how to submit fingerprints

  • Requires USCIS to adjudicate applications for naturalization filed by active-duty members of the U.S. armed forces serving abroad within 180 days of the receipt of responses to all background checks

Military Personnel Citizenship Processing Act (MPCPA) (Pub. L. 110-382)

  • The MPCPA was enacted on October 9, 2008

  • Requires USCIS to complete applications for naturalization filed by service members (and certain spouses) within six months of receipt or notify the applicant of the delay

  • Six-month notification letters must include the reason for delay and an estimated adjudication date


1. [^] See Application of Campbell, 5 F.2d 247 (E.D. Wash. 1925). See Op. Sol. of Labor, Jan, 1926, CO file 79/9.

2. [^] See Acts of July 19 and November 6, 1919, May 26, 1926, March 4, 1929, May 25, 1932, June 24, 1935, August 23, 1937, June 21, 1939, December 7, 1942.

3. [^] See Executive Order 12582, signed on February 2, 1987 (52 FR 3395, February 4, 1987). In consideration of Matter of Reyes, 910 F. 2d 611 (9th Cir. 1990), Executive Order 12582 was revoked by Executive Order 12913, effective February 2, 1987, (59 FR 23115, May 4, 1994).

4. [^] See Sec. 1703 of PL 108-136.

5. [^] See Sec. 673 of PL 110-181.

Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

May 21, 2020

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk between the AFM and the Policy Manual.



Technical Update - Implementation of Policy Guidance on Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship

October 29, 2019

This technical update incorporates into Volume 12 the policy guidance that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced August 28, 2019 addressing requirements for “residence” in statutory provisions related to citizenship. This guidance became effective October 29, 2019. 



Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

October 08, 2019

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].



POLICY ALERT - Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship

August 28, 2019

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to address requirements for “residence” in statutory provisions related to citizenship, and to rescind previous guidance regarding children of U.S. government employees and members of the U.S. armed forces employed or stationed outside the United States. This guidance becomes effective October 29, 2019.



POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

January 07, 2013

USCIS is issuing updated and comprehensive citizenship and naturalization policy guidance in the new USCIS Policy Manual.


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