Military service members and their spouses make substantial sacrifices in order to protect U.S. soil. U.S. immigration law offers military members certain benefits for their service, including assisting foreign-born military to become U.S. citizens. Naturalization is when a foreign-born person voluntarily applies to become a permanent U.S. citizen. Foreign born spouses of U.S. military members may be eligible for expedited naturalization outside the United States.
Requirements for naturalization include:
• Be at least 18 years of age at the time you file the application;
• Have been a lawful permanent resident for the past three or five years (depending on which naturalization category you are applying under);
• Have continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
Military members stationed abroad with their families do not have the ability to maintain a residence in the United States. For their foreign-born spouses, this is a significant obstacle to becoming a U.S. citizen, and receiving all the benefits and protections of citizenship. The spouse of a military member who is living overseas with his or her deployed partner can potentially waive the physical presence and continuous residence requirements, and expedite their naturalization process. USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration) provides expedited naturalization for spouses of military members who do not live in the United States and meet the following qualifications to apply for naturalization under INA 319(b):
• Be age 18 or older;
• Establish your spouse is a U.S. citizen who is, or will be, regularly stationed abroad as a U.S. service member for a period of one year or more;
• Be authorized to accompany your spouse abroad by your spouse’s official orders;
• Be present in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident at the time of your naturalization application interview;
• Be present in the U.S. at the time of naturalization;
• Declare in good faith upon naturalization an intent to reside abroad with your U.S. citizen spouse and to reside in the U.S. immediately upon your spouse’s termination of service abroad;
• Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
• Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics); and
• Have been, and continue to be, a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law.
Military members earn and deserve special considerations for their contribution to the safety and protection of the United States. Family members make considerable sacrifices so military members are able to serve. Children of service members may also be eligible for naturalization or may be eligible to automatically acquire citizenship.
Military service members who want their spouses to become citizens or need help applying for green cards for military families should seek guidance from an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney. The immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Chicago and Oak Brook Illinois can help you with your immigration case. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office or call us at 630-912-0322.