Special provisions in the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act enable people who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces to apply for naturalization to become citizens of the United States. Applicants must ensure that they meet the requirements and that they are able to demonstrate fulfillment of the qualifications.
The naturalization process could be confusing, so applicants in Naperville often find it helpful to consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney for assistance. Naperville naturalization through military duty may be obtained after service, during a term of service, or even posthumously through family members.
Basic Information About Naturalization Through Military Service
The Immigration and Nationality Act or INA contains two separate provisions enabling service members to apply for naturalization. Individuals who meet the qualifications for naturalization through military duty may be able to apply for naturalization even if they do not meet certain other naturalization requirements. Section 328 applies to those who served during peacetime while the provisions of Section 329 apply to those serving during specified “periods of hostility”.
Military service includes honorable service in the “military, air, or naval forces.” Under 8 C.F.R. §328.1, Naperville naturalization through military duty is open to current or former members of the:
- U.S. Army
- U.S. Navy
- U.S. Marines
- U.S. Air Force
- U.S. Coast Guard
- National Guard units when recognized as a reserve component of the Armed Forces
The periods of hostility described in the INA include both World Wars and the hostilities in Korea and Vietnam, as well as other periods designated by Executive Order. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS) reports that service any time from September 11, 2001 to the present is considered service during a period of hostility. In addition, service during the Iraq hostilities from August 2, 1990 through April 11, 1991 also will be counted as service during a period of hostility.
Advantages of Naturalization Through Military Duty
Although applicants for Naperville naturalization through military duty must comply with many requirements, they have certain advantages over other applicants seeking citizenship. First, they are exempt from paying the application fee.
Second, although they must hold a green card as lawful permanent residents of the U.S., they are not required to hold legal permanent resident (LPR) status for as long as other naturalization applicants. Those serving during peacetime must hold a green card for one year before applying for citizenship, compared with five years for other applicants. Applicants serving during a period of hostility, which includes any time since September 11, 2001, may apply for citizenship as soon as their term of service begins.
Importantly, applicants for naturalization through military service may be exempt from other requirements. These include residency requirements. Applicants may even apply while serving overseas.
Applying for Naturalization Through Military Duty in Naperville
Applicants need to submit a Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service. Those currently serving should place the request through the chain of command while those no longer actively serving should submit the form to USCIS along with a copy of from certifying release or discharge from active duty.
In addition, applicants for Naperville naturalization through military duty must submit a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. USCIS needs fingerprints to conduct background checks, but the agency may already have them on file. If not, the agency has several options in place for submitting fingerprints.
A service member who is currently serving in the armed forces may have access to a USCIS liaison on-site to assist with the naturalization process. All applicants may seek guidance from an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney if they have a question or need help with the process.