One of the first legislative proposals of 2014 was introduced by Representative Mike Coffman (R – CO), who retired as a Major from the United States Marine Corps. His proposal is similar to the DREAM Act insofar that it involves granting permanent residence to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, but first they must complete a term of enlistment in the military.The bill above will not apply to lawful immigrants who serve in the U.S. armed forces. Immigrants who have conditional, temporary or permanent resident status can join the military and become eligible for naturalization much sooner than as civilians. This benefit can be extended to the spouse and children of the service member as well.
Immigrants who join the military during peacetime can apply for naturalization after one year of service as long as they have served honorably in the Air Force, Coast Guard, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, or in the respective National Guard or Reserve components of those branches. All other naturalization requirements must be met as well, including the ability to read and write English, knowledge of civics and U.S. history and continuous residence in the country for five years.
The military naturalization process during times of hostilities is far more expeditious. A lawful immigrant serving in the U.S. military since September 11, 2001 can apply for naturalization benefits after just one day of honorable service. This benefit will remain until the President issues an executive order that marks the end of hostilities. If the immigrant service member dies while on active duty and during a period of hostilities, posthumous citizenship may be granted and benefits may be extended to surviving spouses and children.
Spouses and children of U.S. citizens who serve in the armed forces can apply for expedited naturalization and may even qualify to become citizens even if they are overseas. If you have additional questions about naturalization or need assistance with immigration applications, contact Kazmi & Sakata, professional immigration attorneys in San Diego, at 858-874-0711.