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Obtaining U.S. Citizenship for Military Personnel and Their Families

The path to United States citizenship through naturalization for foreigners who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces has been a straightforward affair over the last two decades.

There used to be a time when immigrants serving in the U.S. military faced deportation even when deployed in combat if they were found to be out of status. Thankfully, things have changed significantly and now the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers streamlined options for naturalization of men and women who serve in uniform.

The basic requirements for immigrants serving in the military include having a clean background, passing the English language and civics test and willingness to take the Oath of Allegiance. There are three naturalization options to choose from:

  • Peacetime service – This applies to permanent residents who serve at least one year in the active duty or reserve components. The petition must be submitted at least six months before the end of enlistment.

  • Wartime service – The U.S. has been at war in multiple theaters since 2001; this entitles eligible immigrant service members to file a petition immediately. War veterans may also take advantage of this provision.

  • Basic training graduation – Immigrants who make it through Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps boot camp can petition the USCIS to become naturalized citizens upon graduation. This would entail taking the Oath of Allegiance during the ceremony.

The process starts with filing the standard USCIS Form N-400 and including either the DD-214 or NGB-22 for veterans. Active members must include USCIS Form N-426 certified by their command; veterans or inactive reservists do not need certification since they will include a DD-214 or NGB-22.

Immigrants on active or reserve status who expect to be deployed can petition for an expedited extension of benefits for their spouses and children, even if they are not in the U.S. The unit’s contact with the Judge Advocate General’s Office can help with this process, and they may even work with civilian immigration lawyers in San Diego. The USCIS also has a special department that works with immigrants in the U.S. military and with certain veterans as well.

If you need help immigrating to the U.S., contact KS Visa Law at (858) 874-0711 today. Our qualified attorneys will walk you through the process and offer advice on how to quickly and efficiently navigate the immigration process.

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