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Military Personnel

Active military members and veterans have special eligibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). For the purposes of the INA, ‘qualifying service’ in a military institution is defined as any member of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Certain members of the National Guard and Reserve may also qualify for naturalization.

The requirements of naturalization for a military member differs based on whether or not you served, or are currently serving, in “peacetime” or in a time of active hostility or war.

“Peace Time” Service

Any service man or woman who served honorably, meaning without a receiving a dishonorable discharge, may be eligible to apply for naturalization regardless of when they served. The requirements for a military member serving in peace time are:

  1. Must have served honorably for a period of at least 1 year
  2. Must have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years and must be physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 consecutive months prior to the filing of the application OR if currently enlisted or within 6 months of separation, there is no physical presence requirement.
  3. Must be a permanent resident (Green Card holder) at the time the application is reviewed.
  4. Must be able to read, write, and speak English at a basic level.
  5. Must have a knowledge of U.S. history, government, and society.
  6. Must have “good moral standing” under the law.

“Periods of Hostility” Service

Due to the risks associated with enlisting at times of conflict, the process of naturalization during periods of hostility has fewer conditions for active and veteran servicemen and servicewomen. The requirements for military members are:

  1. Must have served honorably as an active duty member of the military or a member of the reserves. There is no time or duration requirement.
  2. Must have been a permanent resident prior to or after enlistment OR must have been physically present in the U.S. at the time of enlistment.
  3. Must be able to read, write, and speak English at a basic level.
  4. Must have a knowledge of U.S. history, government, and society.
  5. Must have “good moral standing” under the law.

The designated periods of hostility for the purpose of citizenship application are:

  • April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918 (World War I)
  • September 1, 1939 – December 31, 1946 (World War II)
  • June 25, 1950 – July 1, 1955 (the Korean War)
  • February 28, 1961 – October 15, 1978 (Cold War Conflicts)
  • August 2, 1990 – April 11, 1991 (the Gulf War)
  • September 11, 2001 – Present

Please note, as of 2017 the U.S. is currently in a period of hostility and has been since September 11, 2001. This will end only through Presidential decree. Most active military personnel may qualify for naturalization under the “periods of hostility” branch.

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