Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

Military members and citizenship

Military members in California who are not citizens but who are interested in naturalization may be unaware that certain military service members and veterans are eligible for naturalization under sections of the immigration law. The naturalization allowed under the law is due to the military member's service.

During periods of hostility, a military member who served even one day honorably may be eligible for naturalization. To qualify, the person must have either been on active duty or have been a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve during the hostility period. The person must also have been admitted as a lawful permanent resident or have been in the United States or a U.S. territory at the time of their enlistment.

People who served honorably during peacetime may also be eligible for naturalization under a different immigration law section. To be eligible, the service must have been for at least one year and if they were discharged, the discharge must have been an honorable one. They must have resided continuously in the United States for at least 30 months out of the five-year period preceding their application, although the residence requirement will not apply to those who apply while they are still serving or within six months of being honorably separated from service.

There are additional requirements for civics knowledge and English language proficiency under either military-based naturalization option. Citizenship attorneys can provide advice regarding a service member's specific eligibility. A military member who wishes to become naturalized U.S. citizens may thus benefit by seeking the help of an immigration and naturalization attorney who help complete the application, gather all of the needed documents and represent the client's interests before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Source: US CIS, "Citizenship for Military Members", December 10, 2014

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