Under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), service members and certain veterans of the United States armed forces may apply for expedited citizenship . Qualifying military service is generally in one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve. Several of the requirements are provided below:
– A member of the U.S. armed forces must have good moral character; knowledge of
the English language; knowledge of U.S. government and history; and attachment to
the U.S. by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
– Qualified members are exempt from the naturalization requirements of residency
and physical presence in the U.S.
– A member who obtains U.S. citizenship, separates from the military under “other
than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable service may
have his/her citizenship revoked.
– A qualified member may be naturalized overseas, including eligible spouses of
members of the U.S. armed forces.
Discharged members of the U.S. armed forces may also qualify for naturalization. The requirements consist of serving honorably for at least one year, obtaining lawful permanent resident status, and having filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.
In 2002, President Bush signed the “Expedited Naturalization Executive Order” which called for the expedited naturalization of aliens and non-citizens serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces during the War on Terrorism. A qualifying member under this order may immediately file for citizenship. The requirement of at least one year of honorable duty does not apply under the executive order. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has naturalized 42,981 members of the U.S. armed forces since the beginning of the War on Terrorism.
For more information on how to apply and the fingerprint requirements, please review the USCIS Fact Sheet.