San Diego Military Naturalization Lawyer
Foreign nationals desiring U.S. citizenship and are current or former members of the U.S. military (service persons who are or have been on active or reserve duty with the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard) or in a National Guard unit while the unit was federally recognized as a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces may apply for citizenship with some important exceptions to the usual naturalization application rules.
These exceptions may ease the process and allow some current or former members to become a U.S. citizen faster than civilians can. For example, while most people must wait five years after getting their green card to apply for U.S. citizenship, these exceptions allow certain military service people or veterans to apply sooner — or even without having obtained a green card at all.
If you served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year in total (even if the year was broken up into different time periods) you can apply for citizenship just as soon as you get your green card. It doesn’t matter whether the United States was at war during your service, which is why you’ll sometimes hear this exception called “peacetime naturalization.”
If you have already been discharged from the military, the discharge must have been honorable, and there is a time limit this exception. If more than six months pass after your discharge and before you file your application for naturalization, you’ll be back to following the five-year rule that applies to civilian applicants.
Members of the U.S. Armed forces and their spouses and children may be eligible for citizenship under special provisions of the law. The U.S. Armed Forces include: the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, or National Guard.
In times of peace, a foreign national who serves at least one year in the U.S. military must get a green card prior to applying for U.S. citizenship. They are eligible to apply for citizenship after only one year of having a green card.
You service must have been deemed honorable, you must be 18 years or older, and of good moral character. You will also need to take the English and history (civics) test. You will need to complete and file Form N-426 and the Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service which will require input and a signature from a U.S. military official. You also do not have to pay the N-400 application fee.
If you have been discharged from the military, and that discharge was honorable, you are eligible. But you will need to file within six months after being discharged. If more than six months pass and you have not filed your application, you will need to complete five years as a green card holder, like other civilian applicants.
If you enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces during wartime, you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship as early as your first day of service. Various periods of wartime apply as well, including the time that began September 11, 2001 until war has ended. You will need to meet most of the same requirements as other applicants for naturalization. These include: ability to read, write, and speak English, good moral character, passing a history (civics) test. But you will not be held to the same requirements regarding age and length of time as a permanent resident in the United States. You are also able to apply for citizenship while you are overseas.
Spouses of U.S. Armed Forces Eligibility
Spouses of U.S. citizens that are members of the armed forces who are (or who will be) deployed might be eligible for expedited naturalization or for overseas processing. Children of U.S. citizens that are members of the armed forces that have been deployed abroad may be eligible for overseas processing. And family members of armed forces members who have died may also receive benefits.
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