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. 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​ a lawful permanent resident (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 ​1​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 ​United States ​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 the 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 ​Immigration and Nationality Act (​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 Conditions on Residence (​Form I-751​) before his or her Application for Naturalization (​Form N-400​) may be approved.​

G. Department of Defense Military Accessions Vital to National Interest ​Program​

The general guidance in this section is from information provided by the Department of Defense (DOD) on its Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) program. USCIS is providing this general information in the Policy Manual to assist potential service members and their families.​ [9] For further information and details of the DOD program, see the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet or contact the DOD.

1. Military Accessions Vital to National Interest Program​

In 2009, the DOD authorized the MAVNI pilot program as a recruitment pilot to enlist certain nonimmigrants and other foreign nationals with skills considered vital to the national interest of the United States.​ [10] The Secretary of Defense authorized the pilot program. See the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet. The program applies to certain health care professionals and foreign nationals fluent in certain foreign languages.​ [11] See sections on healthcare professionals and eligible languages in the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet. MAVNI enlistees may apply for naturalization under INA 329 upon completing the enlistment process of the U.S. armed forces.​ [12] See INA 329. See background section in the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet.

2. General ​Eligibility Requirements​

Eligible Candidates​

To be eligible for the MAVNI program, the DOD requires applicants to be in one of the following immigration categories or authorized stays at the time of enlistment into the U.S. armed forces:​

Asylee;​

Refugee;​

Beneficiary of Temporary Protected Status (TPS);​

Person granted deferred action by USCIS under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy; or​

Nonimmigrant in any of the following categories: E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V.​

Valid Status for ​2 ​Years​

The DOD requires most applicants for MAVNI to have been in a valid statu​s ​in one of the eligible immigration categories or authorized stays​ listed above for at least 2 years immediately preceding the date of enlistment. ​The applicant is not required to be in the same qualifying category or authorized stay listed above for those 2 years on the date of enlistment. ​

The DOD may exempt or waive the 2-year requirement for certain applicants. Specifically, ​the DOD does not require ​DACA recipients to meet the 2-year requirement. In addition​, the DOD will consider waiving the requirement that an applicant to the MAVNI program be in valid immigration status or within a period of authorized stay at the time of enlistment on a case-by-case basis under certain circumstances.​ [13] See section on eligibility in the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet.

3. Other Factors to Consider​

Nonimmigrants and Absences from United States ​

Under DOD guidance, most applicants to the MAVNI program under a qualifying nonimmigrant category at the time of enlistment must not have been absent from the United States for more than 90 days during the 2-year period immediately preceding the date of enlistment.​ [14] See section on eligibility in the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet. The DOD does not apply this 90-day limitation on absences to DACA recipients.​

Foreign Residency Requirement​

A nonimmigrant exchange visitor under the J nonimmigrant visa classification may be eligible to apply for the MAVNI program with the DOD. Certain nonimmigrant exchange visitors are subject to a statutory foreign residence requirement.​ [15] See INA 212(e). J exchange visitors who enlist in the military through the MAVNI program are not required to comply with the foreign residence ​requirement in order to naturalize.​ [16] The J exchange visitor is not required to obtain a waiver of the INA 212(e) foreign residence requirement. See INA 329. In addition, the dependent spouse or child of the exchange visitor is not required to comply with the foreign residence requirement.​ [17] A J-1 exchange visitor’s dependent spouse or child is issued a J-2 nonimmigrant visa.

Adjustment of Status Applicants​

The DOD does not disqualify otherwise eligible applicants to the MAVNI program by virtue of having a pending adjustment of status application with USCIS.​ [18] See Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. See section on eligibility in the DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet.


Footnotes


1. [^] 

See ​INA 329​. ​

2. [^] 

See ​INA 329(b)​. See ​8 CFR 329.2(e)​.​

3. [^] 

See Section C, National Guard Service [​12 USCIS-PM I.3(C)​].​

4. [^] 

See ​INA 329​.​

5. [^] 

See ​8 CFR 329.1​. See ​10 U.S.C. 10143​ for more information on ​the ​Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.​

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)​].​

7. [^] 

See ​INA 329​.​

8. [^] 

See ​INA 329​.​

9. [^] 

For further information and details of the DOD program, ​see the ​D​OD ​MAVNI ​Fact Sheet​ or ​contact the DOD​. ​

10. [^] 

The Secretary of Defense authorized the pilot program. See the ​D​OD ​MAVNI ​Fact Sheet​. ​

11. [^] 

See sections on healthcare professionals and eligible languages in the ​D​OD ​MAVNI ​Fact Sheet​.​

12. [^] 

See ​INA 329​. ​See background section in the ​D​OD ​MAVNI ​Fact Sheet​. ​

13. [^] 

See section on eligibility in the ​DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet​. ​

14. [^] 

See section on eligibility in the ​DOD MAVNI Fact Sheet​.​

15. [^] 

See​INA 212(e)​.​

16. [^] 

The J exchange visitor is not required to obtain a waiver of the ​INA 212(e)​ foreign residence requirement. ​See ​INA 329​.​

17. [^] 

A J-1 exchange visitor’s dependent spouse or child is issued a J-2 nonimmigrant visa. ​

18. [^] 

See ​Form I-485​, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. See section on eligibility in the ​DOD MAVNI F​a​ct Sheet​.​