Serving in a branch of the U.S. military has its benefits. For example, you can earn a steady income while performing meaningful work and securing your future.
Another lesser-known advantage of military service for foreign nationals is the opportunity to obtain citizenship, possibly without jumping through as many hoops. Below, we will discuss the requirements of this naturalization pathway and offer a few tips for success.
Who is eligible?
Foreign-born green card holders in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Marines, Space Force or National Guard may qualify for citizenship under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Being a service member is only one requirement—here are five others.
- You must be 18 or older.
- You must have served for at least a year.
- You must have a demonstrable record of “good moral character.”
- You must be able to read, write and speak in English.
- You must demonstrate a commitment to the U.S. and its constitutional principles.
At this point, you may be thinking that most of these requirements apply to all seeking U.S. naturalization, and you are correct. However, military members may be eligible to have some of them waived due to the services they provide the nation.
That means you may be able to become a citizen faster and easier than through traditional methods. As an added incentive, your spouse or other family members may qualify for expedited naturalization because of your military service.
While serving in the military can remove some of your citizenship obligations, it does not mean you don’t have some work to do. You still need to gather the required documentation and file your paperwork correctly. Legal guidance can ensure you make no missteps that would interfere with your naturalization.