Immigration Benefits for Military Service Members

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specifically for military members.

Citizenship for Military Service Members (And Their Families)

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, members of the U.S. armed forces, including the Coast Guard, could be eligible for expedited and overseas processing under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Requirements for Naturalization and Citizenship for Military Members

Typically, qualifying service comes from the U.S.:

  • Army
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Marine Corps
  • Coast Guard
  • National Guard (not all components)
  • Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve (not all components)

Peacetime Naturalization

If you have served honorably in any branch of the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible to apply for what’s known as “peacetime naturalization.” However, you must:

  • Be 18 or older
  • Have served honorably for one year or more, and if you are separated from the military, you must have had an honorable discharge
  • Be a permanent resident at the time fo examination on the naturalization application
  • Be able to read, write, and speak English
  • Understand U.S. history and government
  • Have no moral barriers to naturalization
  • Be attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years and have been physically present for 30 months prior to applying unless you’re filing while still in the military or within six months of separation.

Naturalization Through Qualifying Service During Wartime

If you have served even one day during a period of “hostility,” you are also eligible for naturalization if you:
  • Have served honorably on active duty, or as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, during a designated period of hostilities (and if you’ve been separated from the military, your separation must have been honorable)
  • Have been a permanent resident at any time after enlistment or induction, or have been physically present in the U.S. or our territories at the time you enlisted or were inducted
  • Can read, write, and speak English
  • Understand U.S. history and government
  • Have been of “good moral character”
  • Are attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution 

The designated periods of hostilities include:

  • June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955
  • February 28, 1961 to October 15, 1978
  • August 2, 1990 to April 11, 1991
  • September 11, 2001 until the present

That means if you’ve been part of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) or Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq), your service was during a designated period of hostilities.

Do You Need to Talk to a Milwaukee Immigration Lawyer?

If you meet the criteria listed here, you could be eligible for a one of these naturalization processes set up specifically for active-duty and honorably discharged military veterans. Many people choose to work with a Milwaukee immigration lawyer to ensure that their paperwork is complete, the necessary documents are filed with the appropriate agencies, and that their questions are answered by a knowledgeable professional who’s familiar with the immigration process.

We may be able to help you, so call us at 414-383-6700 or get in touch with us online for a U.S. immigration consultation with an attorney right away.

Carlos Gamino

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Immigration Benefits for Military Service Members - Milwaukee Immigration Lawyer
By Carlos Gamino

If you’re in the military, you may be eligible to take that pathway toward citizenship — and it could extend to your dependents, as well (which we’ll cover in a future post). For most service members and veterans, it makes sense to work with a Milwaukee immigration lawyer who knows the processes and the laws set up 
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