Many people applaud this country's citizens and permanent residents who decide to serve the United States by joining the Armed Forces. Permanent residents may receive the opportunity to become citizens through their military service.
If you currently serve or formerly served in the U.S. Military and are a permanent resident, you may be eligible for a streamlined naturalization process created for military service members.
You must still qualify
Even though you may have access to a naturalization process civilians do not, you must still qualify in order to receive this benefit. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, you must meet the following criteria in order to apply:
- You must demonstrate your knowledge of the English language.
- You are a legal permanent resident.
- You demonstrate a favorable disposition toward the happiness and good order of the country.
- You served or serve honorably for at least one year in an active duty or reserve capacity either in peacetime or during an authorized period of conflict.
- You must show that you have an attachment and connection to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
- You must prove you have good moral character.
- You must demonstrate your knowledge of the country's history and government.
You must submit your application while you are still in the service or no later than six months after your separation. Ordinarily, in order to apply for naturalization, you must physically reside within the country for a certain amount of time. Due to your military service, that requirement may not apply to you if your command deployed you outside the country. It's possible that you will not need to meet other requirements based on your military service.
You will still go through the review and interview process with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You will still need to provide the appropriate paperwork as well. If your military service took you abroad, you may be able to attend your interview at your deployment location, but you must make a request to that affect.
It's not a done deal
Even though you obtain an avenue of citizenship through your military service, it is not guaranteed. You must still go through the process, meet the qualifications and present your case at an interview. Having a Texas legal advocate on your side who understands the immigration processes in the United States and keeps up with the many changes occurring these days could prove invaluable. With so much at stake, don't make a mistake by going it alone.