Chapter 5 - Application and Filing for Service Members (INA 328 and 329)
This section provides relevant information for applying for naturalization on the basis of military service. Service members should file their applications in accordance with the instructions for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and other required forms.
An applicant filing for naturalization based on one year of honorable military service during peacetime or honorable service during a designated period of hostility must complete and submit all of the following to USCIS:
Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)
The applicant should check the appropriate eligibility option on the Application for Naturalization to indicate the applicant is applying on the basis of qualifying military service. The applicant should file the application in accordance with the form instructions.
If an applicant filing under a different eligibility provision for naturalization has served in the military, the officer should determine if the applicant may be eligible under a qualifying military basis. If the applicant may be eligible based on the military service, the officer should provide the applicant with the opportunity to seek naturalization on that basis.
If the applicant would like to seek naturalization based on their military service but is ultimately determined not to be eligible on that basis, the officer must consider the applicant’s eligibility under the original filing basis before issuing a decision. Regardless of the filing basis, USCIS must conduct a Defense Clearance Investigative Index (DCII) query on all applicants who currently serve or have served in the U.S. military.
Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426)
Form N-426 confirms whether the applicant served honorably in an active duty status or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. The form may also establish whether the applicant has ever been released from military service on the grounds that he or she is a noncitizen. Only those applicants applying under INA 328 or INA 329 are required to submit the form. An applicant applying under a different naturalization provision is not required to submit the form, even if the applicant has prior military service.
In the case of a currently serving applicant, the military must complete and certify (sign) the Form N-426 before it is submitted to USCIS. A certifying official must complete and sign the Form N-426 within 6 months of submitting the Form N-400 to USCIS, except in cases where the applicant enlisted in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve through the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program before October 13, 2017.
An applicant who is separated or discharged from the military at the time of filing Form N-400 is still required to submit a completed Form N-426, but the Form N-426 is not required to be certified. However, applicants who are separated or discharged from the military must also submit a photocopy of their Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty (DD Form 214), National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22), or other official discharge document for all periods of service. The discharge document must list information on the type of separation and character of service. Such information is typically found on page “Member-4” of DD Form 214 or Block 24 of NGB Form 22.
Most military installations have a designated office that serves as a point-of-contact to assist service members with their naturalization application packets. Service members should inquire through their chain of command for the appropriate office to assist with preparing the naturalization packet.
There is no fee for filing a Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Form N-336) for applicants whose naturalization application filed under INA 328 or INA 329 has been denied.
Like all USCIS benefit requests, naturalization applications filed on the basis of military service should be filed in accordance with the form instructions. For current members of the military and qualifying family members stationed outside of the United States, USCIS determines which field office has jurisdiction over the application. If an applicant resides outside the United States, is no longer serving in the military, and is filing on the basis of military service during hostilities, the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the naturalization application is determined by the applicant’s last residence within the United States or Outlying Possession (OLP).
An applicant currently serving outside of the United States may complete all aspects of the naturalization process, including biometrics, interviews, and oath ceremonies while residing outside of the United States on official orders. The applicant may request overseas processing at any time of the naturalization process.
[^ 5] See Nio, et al. v. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al., Civil Action No. 17-0998 (D.D.C. 2019).
[^ 11] For applicants whose last residence was in an OLP, see the USCIS Field Office Locator to determine jurisdiction. For more information, see Chapter 3, Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329), Section H, Veterans Residing Outside of the United States [12 USCIS-PM I.3(H)].