Chapter 8 – Posthumous Citizenship (INA 329A)
A. Eligibility for Posthumous Citizenship
In general, a person who serves honorably in the U.S. armed forces during designated periods of hostilities and dies as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by that service may be eligible for posthumous citizenship.  See Chapter 3, Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329), Section D, Designated Periods of Hostilities [12 USCIS-PM I.3(D)]. Posthumous citizenship establishes that the deceased service member is considered a citizen of the United States as of the date of his or her death.  See INA 329A and 8 CFR 392.
The military branch under which the deceased service member served will determine whether he or she served honorably in an active-duty status during a qualified period and whether the death was combat related.
Spouses and children of U.S. citizen service members who qualify for posthumous citizenship may be eligible for immigration benefits under special provisions of the INA.  See Chapter 9, Spouses, Children, and Surviving Family Benefits [12 USCIS-PM I.9].
B. Application and Filing
The service member’s next of kin, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary’s designee in USCIS must submit an Application for Posthumous Citizenship (Form N-644) within two years of the service member’s death and in accordance with the form instructions and with appropriate fee.  See 8 CFR 103.7. USCIS uses the posthumous citizenship application to verify the deceased service member’s place of induction, enlistment or reenlistment; military service; and service-connected death.  See 8 CFR 392.2.
The following documents should be submitted along with the completed Application for Posthumous Citizenship, if available:
•DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty
•DD Form 1300, Report of Casualty/Military Death Certificate (or other military or State issued death certificate)
•Any other military or state issued certificate of the decedent’s death
USCIS will issue a Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-645) in the name of the deceased service member establishing posthumously that he or she was a U.S. citizen on the date of his or her death if the Application for Posthumous Citizenship is approved.  See 8 CFR 392.4. See Part K, Certificates of Citizenship and Naturalization, Chapter 2, Certificate of Citizenship [12 USCIS-PM K.2]. In cases where USCIS denies the Form N-644, USCIS will notify the applicant of the decision and the reason(s) for denial. There is no appeal for a denied posthumous citizenship application.  See 8 CFR 392.3(d).
See Chapter 3, Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329), Section D, Designated Periods of Hostilities [12 USCIS-PM I.3(D)].
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.
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  See Application of Campbell, 5 F.2d 247 (E.D. Wash. 1925). See Op. Sol. of Labor, Jan, 1926, CO file 79/9.
-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)  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).
-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
-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 329A)  See Sec. 1703 of PL 108-136.
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  See Sec. 673 of PL 110-181.
-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
See Application of Campbell, 5 F.2d 247 (E.D. Wash. 1925). See Op. Sol. of Labor, Jan, 1926, CO file 79/9.
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.
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).
See Sec. 1703 of PL 108-136.
See Sec. 673 of PL 110-181.