Military service men and women make substantial sacrifices in order to protect U.S. soil. Foreign-born members of the military are in a special category, as they fight to defend a country that may not yet recognize them as citizens. Fortunately, U.S. immigration law offers military members certain benefits for their service.
In order to properly acknowledge foreign-born service members, the U.S. immigration system attempts to expedite their route to citizenship. Active duty or veteran immigrants have the option in Oak Brook naturalization through military duty, through which they may go from a permanent resident to a citizen, via—theoretically—a simpler and more economical process than non-military applicants. Immigrant family members of military service people may also be eligible to receive benefits.
Naturalization Requirements for Military Members
Veterans or active duty military members can qualify for citizenship if they:
- Are over 18 years of age
- Have good moral character
- Can speak, write, and read English
- Will declare an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution
- Pass a history and civics test
- Clear all security and suitability screening requirements
- Hold a green card as a permanent resident or other recognized legal status
- Have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for a designated amount of time
There are three main benefits a military member gains when applying for naturalization. First, no filing fee is required, as the typical USCIS filing fee is waived for military service members.
Second, no proof of “physical presence” is required. Non-military applicants must prove they are physically present in the U.S. for a certain number of months leading up to their application, but military members are excluded from this requirement. An active duty military applicant can apply for naturalization regardless of where he or she is stationed, even if they are currently serving overseas.
Finally, “continuous residence” requirements are reduced. Unlike most naturalization applicants, military members do not have to show that they have continuously resided in the U.S. for three to five years. Instead, military applicants only have to show that they served for one of the following combinations of time and circumstances:
- A total of one year during U.S. peacetime
- 180 days of continuous active duty during a period of “hostility”
- One year in the selected reserve during a period of “hostility”
These periods of time are carefully defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Agency (USCIS). Although the U.S. is currently considered to be in a period of hostility, these circumstances—as well as these laws—are subject to change on very short notice, so it may be wise to consult with your immigration attorney for further details about Oak Brook naturalization through military duty.
Family Members of Military Applicants May Receive Immigration Benefits
The spouse and children of military members can also be eligible for the benefits listed above. Specifically, 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, expediting their naturalization process.
In addition, a benefit is now offered to surviving immediate family members of U.S. servicemen or women who pass away during military hostilities. If the military member’s death is linked to an injury or disease that was incurred during combat, the deceased veteran can be declared a U.S. citizen posthumously. Within two years of the loved one’s death, the surviving spouse, children, and parents can petition for a green card based on their relationship with the now-deceased U.S. military member.
Talk to an Oak Brook Naturalization Attorney Today
Some parts of Oak Brook naturalization through military duty are time-sensitive, and laws governing the process are currently in flux. As such, the process requires careful legal analysis in order to avoid costly mistakes.
A dedicated and experienced immigration lawyer could evaluate your situation and provide service members with step-by-step instructions for how to maximize your chances of obtaining U.S. citizenship. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your immigration objectives.