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Military Service Member Naturalization Rules

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on August 19, 2016

Some members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not citizens, but they have a path to citizenship if they meet certain criteria. The Department of Justice is working together with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to educate military members about how they can become naturalized citizens. Military members who are not citizens and who have served honorably are able to go through an expedited naturalization process, which would allow them to become U.S. citizens, vote, hold office, and become officers in their respective branches. 

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Eligibility for Military Route to Citizenship

On July 3, 2002, President Bush signed an order that allows non-citizen U.S. military service members to immediately apply for citizenship. In order to qualify, service members must have served honorably. People who served in certain wars or conflicts also qualify in addition to those who have honorably served on or following Sept. 11, 2001. The executive order is codified under Sect. 329 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. The designated previous wars and conflicts include WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf wars.

Service Member Qualifications

In order to qualify, service members must be judged to have good moral characters. They must also have a good understanding of English, understand civics and the U.S. government and take an oath of allegiance. Covered service members include those who are in basic training or technical training. Service members do not have to meet residency requirements in order to qualify for the expedited naturalization process. An Illinois immigration attorney might help clients understand whether or not they meet the qualifications for the expedited naturalization process.

Application Process for Expedited Naturalization

Eligible military members can apply by completing the application for naturalization; they do not have to pay a filing fee. They must also submit a DD-214 to prove their service along with a request for certification of military service form. Service members are able to go through their interviews and take their oaths of allegiance while they are on base during basic training. An Illinois immigration attorney helps military service members with completing and filing all of the required documents. Becoming a citizen allows people access to many rights that non-citizens do not enjoy, and doing so can also help those who plan to have careers in the military to advance. Only citizens are allowed to become officers in the U.S. Armed Forces.