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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. [1] Service members should file their applications in accordance with the instructions for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and other required forms. 

A. Required Forms

An applicant filing for naturalization based on one year of honorable military service during peacetime [2] or honorable service during a designated period of hostility [3] must complete and submit all of the following to USCIS:

Form N-400, Application for Naturalization 

The applicant should check the appropriate eligibility option on the Application for Naturalization to indicate that he or she is applying on the basis of qualifying military service. The applicant should file the application in accordance with the form instructions.

Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service

The Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service 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 an alien. 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.

The military must complete and certify (sign) the Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service before it is submitted to USCIS. USCIS, however, will accept a completed but uncertified form submitted by an applicant who has separated from the U.S. armed forces if: 

  • The applicant submitted a photocopy of his or her Certificate or Release from Active Duty (DD Form 214) or National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) for applicable periods of service listed on Form N-426; and

  • The DD Form 214 or NGB Form 22 lists 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.

B. Fee Exemptions

  • USCIS charges no fees for filing an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) or for biometrics capturing for applications filed under INA 328 or INA 329

  • 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. [4] 

  • There is no filing fee for current and former service members for an Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600). [5] 

C. Filing Location and Initial Processing

Naturalization applications filed on the basis of military service should be filed in accordance with the form instructions. [6] USCIS will permit an applicant residing abroad the option to file his or her application for naturalization with the USCIS overseas office having jurisdiction over his or her place of residence, as practicable.

An applicant serving abroad may complete all aspects of the naturalization process, including fingerprinting, interviews and oath ceremonies while residing abroad on official orders. [7] The applicant may request overseas processing at any time of the naturalization process.

Footnotes


1. [^] See INA 328 and INA 329.

2. [^] See INA 328.

3. [^] See INA 329.

4. [^] See USCIS Fee Schedule Final Rule (75 FR 58962, Sept. 24, 2010).

5. [^] See USCIS Fee Schedule Final Rule (75 FR 58962, Sept. 24, 2010).

6. [^] See INA 328 and INA 329

7. [^] See 8 U.S.C. 1443a.

Resources

Legal Authorities

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 316, 8 CFR 316 - General requirements for naturalization

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

INA 329, 8 CFR 329 - Naturalization through military service during hostilities

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

INA 336, 8 CFR 336 - Hearings on denials of applications for naturalization

Appendices

Appendix: History of Acquiring Citizenship under INA 320 for Children of U.S. Citizens who are Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, U.S. Government Employees, or their Spouses

Before October 29, 2019, USCIS considered children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees, who were stationed outside of the United States, to meet the requirement of “is residing in” the United States for the purpose of acquiring citizenship under INA 320.[1] This interpretation was consistent with the definition of “residence” for purposes of naturalization under INA 316.[2] Based on this treatment of U.S. government employees and their children in the context of naturalization under INA 316, USCIS determined that “residing in the United States” for purposes of acquisition of citizenship under INA 320 should likewise be interpreted to include children of U.S. military and government employees stationed outside of the United States who were residing with their parents.[3]

This interpretation, however, was inconsistent with other provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including the definition of “residence” at INA 101(a)(33) and language in INA 322(a) and INA 322(d), which suggested that the citizenship of military children residing outside of the United States should be considered under that provision rather than under INA 320. Effective October 29, 2019, USCIS amended its policy guidance to address these concerns, and determined that children of members of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employees stationed outside of the United States would not be eligible for citizenship acquisition under INA 320.[4]

On March 26, 2020, the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act was enacted,[5] amending INA 320, so that a child residing with his or her U.S. citizen parent, who is stationed outside of the United States as a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee, or is residing in marital union with a member of the U.S. armed forces or a U.S. government employee who is stationed outside of the United States, acquires citizenship under INA 320 if all requirements of INA 320(c) and INA 320(a)(1)-(2) are met. In line with the statute, USCIS rescinds its previous guidance, clarifying that these children are eligible to acquire citizenship under INA 320 if all other requirements under INA 320 are met.

The amendment to INA 320 applies to children who were under the age of 18 on March 26, 2020.

Footnotes


[^ 1] Even though the child of a member of the U.S. armed forces or U.S. government employee stationed outside of the United States may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship under INA 322 since he or she resides outside of the United States, USCIS interpreted the child to meet residency requirements under INA 320 as well, which formerly required the child to be residing in the United States with his or her parent to acquire citizenship.

[^ 2] For example, U.S. government employees, including members of the U.S. armed forces, are eligible to apply for an exception to the continuous residence requirement for naturalization under INA 316 as long as their residency outside of the United States was on behalf of the U.S. government. See INA 316(b). See INA 316(a). See Part D, General Naturalization Requirements, Chapter 3, Continuous Residence [12 USCIS-PM D.3].

[^ 3] See Policy Manual Technical Update, Child Citizenship Act and Children of U.S. Government Employees Residing Abroad (July 20, 2015); and Acquisition of Citizenship by Children of U.S. Military and Government Employees Stationed Abroad under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), No. 103, issued May 6, 2004.

[^ 4] See USCIS Policy Alert, Defining “Residence” in Statutory Provisions Related to Citizenship [PA-2019-05] (PDF, 308.45 KB). This Policy Alert has been superseded by Policy Manual updates to reflect changes made under Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF).

[^ 5] See Pub. L. 116-133 (PDF) (March 26, 2020).

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

Footnotes


[^ 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 (PDF), 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.

Updates

POLICY ALERT - Residency Requirements for Children of Service Members and Government Employees Residing Outside of the United States for Purposes of Acquisition of Citizenship

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual regarding residency requirements under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Citizenship for Children of Military Members and Civil Servants Act.

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

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 (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

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

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”

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

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.

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POLICY ALERT - Comprehensive Citizenship and Naturalization Policy Guidance

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

Read More