Naturalization Through Military Duty
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
– John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961
Legacy Immigration has a “soft spot” for active duty and former military members. We are thankful for their service and allowing us the right to live in freedom. We have dedicated one webpage to describe the special immigration relief for our military members.
LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENCE
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) affords benefits to the spouse, parent or child of a member of the armed forces who died in combat. There is a legal definition for “died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat” defined as:
- The death is attributable to an injury or disease for which the member was awarded the Purple Heart; or
- The death resulted from an injury or disease that was incurred or aggravated:
1. As a result of armed conflict;
2. While engaged in hazardous service;
3. In the performance of duty under conditions simulating war; or
4. Through an instrumentality of war.
For U.S. Citizen Service Members, the law permits self-petitions by the spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen who served honorably in the Armed Forces and “died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat” as long as the petition is filed within 2 years of the U.S. citizen’s death.
The spouse may not have been legally separated at the time of the spouse’s death and may not remarry during the petition process. A child may apply even if he or she turns 21 or marries after the U.S. citizen’s death.
For Posthumous U.S. Citizen Service Members, a spouse, parent or child of an LPR who honorably served, “died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat,” and who posthumously became a U.S. citizen, can self-petition as an immediate relative if filed within 2 years of the LPR’s death. The spouse, parent, or child is also eligible for Deferred Action, Advance Parole and work authorization.
Posthumous U.S. Citizen Service Member Citizenship. A spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen who served honorably in active duty status, who “died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by combat,” and who was granted posthumous citizenship may adjust his or her status to LPR if the adjustment application was filed prior to the U.S. citizen’s death.
Expedited Naturalization for Service Members. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows current members of the U.S. armed forces and recently discharged service members to have their naturalization application expedited. Generally, qualifying military service includes service with any of the following: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. In addition, spouses of members of the U.S. armed forces who are or will be deployed may also be eligible for expedited naturalization.
To Qualify, the applicant must prove:
- Good moral character,
- Knowledge of the English language,
- Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics), and
- Attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
Unlike other applicants for naturalization, military members do not need to prove:
- the continuous residency requirement
- the physical presence requirement
- applications, interviews and ceremonies are available overseas to members of the U.S. armed forces and certain “command-sponsored” spouses
- Spouses of members of the armed forces living in marital union abroad are also exempt from the residence and physical presence requirement
- Children of members of the armed forces living with their parent abroad who is under lawful military orders are also exempt from the physical presence requirement AND the lawful admission and maintenance of lawful status (e.g. child does not need to be an LPR and the parent need not be physical present in the U.S.)
- where a person honorably served in time of war or declared hostilities during a period designated by the President through Executive Order, LPR status is not required. This means that an applicant in undocumented status can obtain citizenship
- LPR status is also not required for posthumous citizenship due to military service
However, a person who obtains U.S. citizenship through his or her military service and separates from the military under “other than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable service may have his or her citizenship revoked.
How We Can Help:
- Prepare the N-400, Application for Naturalization for applicant and applicant’s spouse and children
- Once the military member is naturalized in an expedited manner, we can file the green card applications for parents and siblings
- Assist with obtaining the Certificate of Military or Naval Service
- Request expedited filing with USCIS
- Correspond with USCIS regarding any collateral issues
Please give us a call to discuss your case. In-person consultations are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please call our office at 301.529.1912 or complete the form below. Please be sure to provide a timeline of events along with details of your entire immigration history./strong>