Citizenship Through Military Service

United States Armed Services current members and recently discharged members are eligible under the Immigration and Nationality Act to be granted an expedited application and naturalization process.  Individuals in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and certain components of the National Guard and Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, along with qualifying spouses of servicemembers that are or will be deployed are eligible for expedited naturalization.  In some instances, spouses are able to undergo the naturalization process abroad. 

Requirements for Naturalization

Citizenship Through Military Service

The following are requirements and qualifications for a U.S. servicemember to become a citizen:

  • Must demonstrate good moral character
  • Must demonstrate knowledge of the English language
  • Must possess knowledge of the U.S. government and history
  • Must prove attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution

Exemption is given to U.S. servicemembers for the requirements of residence and physical presence in the U.S. through the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  All steps of the naturalization process such as application, interviews and ceremonies are available overseas to servicemembers and “command-sponsored” spouses.  If a servicemember who obtained citizenship through U.S. Armed Forces service separated from the military for “other than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable military service runs the risk of having that citizenship revoked. 

Requirements for naturalization for those servicemembers recently separated from the military:

  • Must have at least one year of honorable service in the U.S. armed forces
  • Must have obtained lawful permanent resident status
  • Must have filed an application while still in service or within six months of leaving the service

The Immigration and Naturalization Act, under a special provision requiring a Presidential executive order, allows all noncitizens that have served honorably in the U.S. armed services after September 11, 2001 to immediately file for citizenship.  In some circumstances this also allows veterans of specified past wars and conflicts to immediately file for citizenship.  This allowance will be in effect until a future date when a Presidential executive order is signed to change this allowance. 

New legislation has been passed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the form of the Naturalization at Basic Training Initiative encompassing Army servicemembers in 2009 and expanding to the Navy, Air Force and finally the Marine Corps in 2013.  This allows servicemembers to leave basic training as a U.S. citizen.  All naturalization processes including the capture of biometrics, interview and administration of the Oath of Allegiance is done by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services right on the military base. 

Applying for Naturalization

All military installation will have a point-of-contact that can assist individuals with the application process when filing for naturalization.  They are usually located in the Judge Advocate General’s Office.  A packet including the following forms will be available and assistance will be provided in filling out the forms.

USCIS Form N-40, Application for Naturalization (the usual fee charged for filing this form is waived for servicemembers)

USCIS Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (this form must be certified by the military before it is sent to the USCIS and those individuals already separated from the military must submit and uncertified form accompanied by their DD Form 214)

Once this packet is complete it should be sent certified mail, return receipt to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center at the following address for expedited processing:

US Department of Homeland Security

Citizen and Immigration Services

Nebraska Service Center

PO Box 87426

Lincoln, NE 68501-7426

For assistance from a USCIS customer service specialist call 1(877)-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645).  Help is available for military members and their families Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 pm CST excluding federal holidays.  USCIS military customer service specialists can also be contacted through email at:  militaryinfo.nsc@dhs.gov

Posthumous Citizenship

Under the Immigration and Naturalization Act, citizenship can be granted posthumous for those eligible servicemembers who served honorably during specified times of hostility and died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by their service, provided the next-of-kin applies for the citizenship within the two years following the srvicemember’s death.  Surviving spouses, children and parents may be eligible for immigration benefits. 

The Numbers

Many members of the military and their dependents have gained citizenship through these special benefits available servicemembers through the Immigration and Naturalization Act.  The USCIS has naturalized 89,095 military members since September 2002 during ceremonies in 28 countries.  The naturalization of 1,898 military spouses have taken place in 28 countries since 2008. Since 2009, 76 dependent military children have be given citizenship certificates during ceremonies in 5 countries.  The following tables give the breakdown of how many servicemembers and dependents have been naturalized, in which fiscal year and in which country. 

Naturalized Service Members

YEAR

TOTAL

USA

ABROAD

FY-02

2,434

2,434

0

FY-03

4,659

4,659

0

FY-04

6,327

6,327

0

FY-05

7,136

6,106

1,030

FY-06

8,538

6,643

1,895

FY-07

5,895

4,541

1,354

FY-08

7,865

6,356

1,509

FY-09

10,505

8,850

1,655

FY-10

11,146

9,735

1,411

FY-11

10,334

9,415

919

FY-12

8,693

8,184

509

FY-13

5,563

5,126

437

TOTAL

89,095

78,376

10,719

 

Military Children Naturalized Abroad

Location of Ceremony

TOTAL

FY-09

FY-10

FY-11

FY-12

FY- 13

Italy

1

0

0

0

1

0

Germany

18

4

7

3

4

0

Japan

21

5

6

7

0

3

South Korea

18

3

4

7

4

0

United Kingdom

18

0

1

17

0

0

TOTAL

76

12

18

34

9

3

 

Service Members Naturalized Abroad 

Location of Ceremony

TOTAL

FY-05

FY-06

FY-07

FY-08

FY-09

FY-10

FY-11

FY-12

FY-13

Afghanistan 

1,156

40

87

80

105

183

208

288

99

66

Bahrain

10

0

0

0

0

0

2

2

2

4

China (Hong Kong)

4

0

0

0

0

0

4

0

       0

                 

Cuba (Guantanamo)

4

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

1

Djibouti 

30

0

19

6

0

2

0

0

3

0

El Salvador 

2

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

                0

Germany 

1,459

311

320

148

135

137

152

131

87

              38

Greece 

13

0

2

0

0

1

2

8

0

0

Haiti

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Honduras 

5

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

2

0

Iceland 

5

0

2

0

3

0

0

0

0

0

Iraq 

3,412

184

705

684

644

678

427

88

2

                0

Italy 

309

75

57

56

13

26

26

37

12

7

Jamaica

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

Japan 

2,154

174

419

183

349

282

288

224

183

52

Kenya 

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kosovo 

39

0

0

7

0

0

29

1

2

                0

Kuwait 

600

42

110

60

110

167

58

4

45

                4

Kyrgyzstan

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

                0

Mexico

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Philippines 

7

0

0

0

0

4

0

3

0

                0

Qatar

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

                0

South Korea 

1,171

164

160

121

149

171

198

107

64

37

Spain 

77

39

7

6

0

1

9

10

3

2

Thailand

9

0

0

0

0

0

1

7

1

0

Turkey

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

United Kingdom 

17

1

6

3

1

1

0

4

1

0

TOTAL

10,492

1,030

1,895

1,354

1,509

1,655

1,411

918

509

211

 

Military Spouses Naturalized Abroad

Location of Ceremony

TOTAL

FY-08

FY-09

FY-10

FY-11

FY-

12

FY-

13

Bahrain

5

0

0

0

1

1

3

Bulgaria

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

Chile

1

0

0

0

0

1

       0

China (Hong Kong)

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

Cuba

1

0

0

0

0

1

       0

El Salvador

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

Germany

729

10

173

154

155

146

     91

Georgia

3

0

0

0

0

1

2

Greece

11

0

0

0

11

0

0

Italy

175

4

51

45

35

21

     19

Jamaica

  1

0

0

0

1

00

0

Japan

448

5

73

144

61

133

32

Kosovo

41

0

0

0

0

0

41

Kuwait

2

0

0

2

0

0

0

Mexico

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

Norway

2

0

0

2

0

0

0

Oman

2

0

0

1

1

0

0

Panama

1

0

0

1

0

0

0

Philippines 

4

0

0

3

0

1

0

Poland

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

Portugal

3

0

0

0

2

0

       1

South Korea

281

11

58

63

62

87

0

Spain

55

0

3

23

8

14

7

Romania

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Tanzania

1

0

0

1

0

0

Thailand

4

0

0

2

1

1

0

Turkey

9

0

0

3

2

3

1

United Kingdom

114

0

21

28

25

20

20

TOTAL

1,898

30

380

473

368

430

217

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