U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows for citizenship of many service members and their dependents. As a U.S. armed forces member, you may be able to petition for citizenship or permanent residency (through a green card) for your family members. Special provisions of the law sometimes permit for the eligibility of a service member and / or their dependents. The same is true for veterans of the U.S. military. Both members and veterans alike are permitted the possibility of gaining American citizenship through their status in the armed forces.
The immediate relatives of U.S. armed forces members who have passed away while in combat or on active duty status may also be eligible for certain types of benefits, known as “survivor immigration benefits.” In some cases, citizenship can be obtained in this way as well. The USCIS has openly stated it’s recognition of the important sacrifices made by military members and their families, particularly those who may be non-citizens of the U.S. USCIS is accustomed to processing naturalization applications in a timely manner, practicing as much efficiency as possible. Under special provisions noted in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), expedited and overseas processing may also be available to the spouses and children of armed forces members.
Non-citizens of the United States can join the military so long as they have a valid green card and have established U.S. residency, which includes establishing on their record that the U.S. is their current home country. Once these provisions have been made, non-citizens who join the U.S. military can take advantage of the benefits that will be extended to them. These benefits are as follows:
Citizenship After One Year of Service
After a full year of service in the U.S. military has been completed by a foreign born national – whether it be a continuous year or the accumulation of a year’s worth of time – the individual will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. The year-long service must be served honorably, and citizenship can only be applied for after the individual has received a green card. To complete the process, applicants must meet all criteria for naturalization and fill out the USCIS Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service.
Citizenship After Completion of Active Duty
After serving in an active duty capacity for the U.S. Armed Forces, a foreign born national can apply for U.S. citizenship. Applying for citizenship in this way does not require a certain immigration status; the only requirement is that the standard criteria for citizenship be met. Applicants will be required to complete the Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service as well as the typical paperwork and procedures associated with the naturalization process. Applicants who already have a green card will not have to endure the standard five-year waiting period.
Posthumous Immigration Status Benefits
In the event that a foreign national who is serving in the U.S. military is killed in action, the individual and their family members will become eligible for an adjustment of immigration status. A non-citizen who is killed in action can become a citizen posthumously through a petition by the next of kin which is completed with the Form N-644, Application for Posthumous Citizenship. In addition, the spouse, parents, and children of a U.S. citizen who was killed in active duty will be eligible for green cards assuming that they are already lawful permanent residents of the country.
If you have additional questions or concerns about any of the aforementioned methods of obtaining citizenship through your military service, then we encourage you to contact an immigration attorney at Pozo Goldstein, LLP. We can review the details of your case to determine whether or not your service qualifies you for any of the citizenship benefits listed above. We can also help guide you through the green card application process as you attempt to seek citizenship in the U.S.
USCIS pays special recognition to non-U.S. citizens who serve as members of the U.S. armed forces. This recognition is also extended to the families of armed forces members. The special attention paid to these persons is used as a means of processing their naturalization applications in the most timely and efficient manner possible. In essence, the highest form of customer service is expected to be offered to non-U.S. citizens who serve in the U.S. armed forces, as well as their spouses and families.
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen and a member of the U.S. armed forces who is deployed – or will be deployed shortly – you could be eligible for expedited naturalization. Under such circumstances, you might also be eligible for expedited overseas processing as well. In order to be eligible for naturalization abroad, as defined by section 319(a) of the INA, spouses of a U.S. armed forces member must meet the following criteria:
The regulations pertaining to citizenship for children are slightly different, however, and fall under Section 322 of the INA. According to these stipulations, a parent can apply for naturalization on behalf of their child if the child was born outside of the U.S. and, thus, has not yet acquired citizenship automatically. The conditions that must be met in order for this process to occur are as follows:
These rules differ slightly for children of U.S. military members. Unlike other children of U.S. citizens, the child of a member of the U.S. armed forces who is currently abroad in accompaniment of the service member (who is following his or her official orders) will not be required to be present in the U.S. in order to obtain lawful admission. In addition, the U.S. citizen parent who is a current service member will be permitted to count any period of residency abroad on official orders as physical presence in the U.S.
With the help of a New York immigration lawyer by your side, you will be able to address matters of citizenship and naturalization as a military member. As a member yourself, you will be eligible for personal citizenship under Sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. For members who are already citizens but have immediate relatives who are not, citizenship rights may be extended to these individuals as well. In particular, spouses of U.S. service members who are or will soon be deployed, expedited naturalization and / or overseas processing will be made available.
At Pozo Goldstein, LLP we are dedicated to protecting your immigration rights and ensuring that you are not denied the citizenship that is rightfully due to you and your family. As a member of the U.S. armed forces, you are entitled to certain eligibility rights for citizenship that would not typically be applied in other cases. These are complicated processes that require the attention of an experienced legal professional, such as that which can be found at our firm. When you align yourself with an associate at our office, you will be provided with the knowledge and skill set of a team with more than 90 years of experience. Nowhere else will you be provided with the same level of professionalism and knowledge as that which we have to offer, so we encourage you to give the firm a call today.