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Military Service and Naturalization


If you have been or are in the United States military or if you are the dependent of a military employee, the process for becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen may be fast and easy for you. The Immigration and Naturalization Service gives certain privileges to legal permanent residents who have been or are serving honorably in the U.S. military.

Current Military Service

If you are a legal permanent resident, the quickest route to becoming a U.S. citizen is through military service. Normally, permanent residents must live in the United States for five continuous years. They must also reside in a specific state for three months before filing an application for naturalization. However, if you are a legal permanent resident who has completed three continuous years or more in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard or National Guard, and you are still serving in the military or were honorably discharged within the last six months, you are eligible to apply for naturalization without fulfilling the normal residency requirements. You are not required to have lived in the United States during your service in the military, and you will receive fast processing of your application, usually within sixty days. This is significantly faster than the one to four years it takes to process applications for civilians. If you were in the military for less than three years, and you were let go from the military for a performance or conduct issue that did not result in a dishonorable discharge, you may still be eligible to apply for naturalization through your military service. If military service was not continuous, you must have lived in the United States between periods of honorable service for the five years before the date you filed for naturalization. You must file your application in the INS service district in which you resided when you were not in the military.

If you have recently been discharged from the military, you should file your application for citizenship within the six months following your discharge. After six months, unless you served in the military during a designated war or conflict, you must fulfill the normal five-year residency requirement. However, the amount of time you performed honorable service in the military, in the U.S. or abroad, will count toward the five required years. You will file your application at the INS service center having jurisdiction over your home state. You must have lived in that state for at least three months before you may file for naturalization there.

If You Served

If you served in an active duty status in the U.S. military during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or the Persian Gulf War, you are eligible for citizenship even if you are not a legal permanent resident. You also do not have to fulfill any requirement for residence or for physical presence in the United States. You may also naturalize as a U.S. citizen if you are a Philippine national who lived in the Philippines and then actively served during World War II for the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, the Philippine Scouts or recognized guerilla units. You will not have to fulfill residency or physical presence requirements in the United States to naturalize.

As a Spouse or Adopted Child

The INS also has fast processing of naturalization applications for dependent wives, husbands and adopted children of military personnel who are U.S. citizens and who are ordered overseas. In this situation, a military commander must issue DD Form 1278, Certificate of Overseas Assignment to Support Application to File Petition for Naturalization, to the spouse and/or child(ren). After receiving this form, these dependents can apply for naturalization at the nearest, local INS office to receive fast processing.

The Easiest Way to Apply for Naturalization

Naturalization is indeed faster through military service. Residency and physical presence requirements are fewer. However, there are many other questions which must be answered in order to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements for naturalization. And the application is lengthy. Naturalization can be a confusing process. Lawyers will charge you a lot of money. Filing by yourself is difficult. Where can you turn for help? INSWizard.

About The Author

INSGreencard was founded by William Carroll and Ben Ferro. Messrs. Carroll and Ferro have over 61 years collective experience as senior officers in the US and abroad for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. Mr. Carroll’s responsibilities included supervision as a Director of the Los Angeles, California and Washington, DC INS District Offices and Mr. Ferro was INS Director for all of Europe (including the former Soviet Union) and the Director of the INS Amnesty Program. They each retired from the INS as Directors in 1998 to join private industry and possess unique and valuable knowledge and credibility in the field of immigration. is an easy-to-use, easy-to-understand immigration website brought to you by two former directors of the INS. Visit INSGreencard for expert assistance, helpful explanations, quick answers, up-to-date news, INS info and forms, comprehensive glossary, useful links, and best of all, INSWizard. INSWizard, your online immigration solution, guides you step-by-step through INS applications and petitions. In minutes, you get:

your completed, accurate form(s)
summary of your application process
detailed filing instructions
sample cover letter
translation certification and addendum
list of additional documents required
important tips and alerts
expert Help every step of the way

INSWizard is a fast, easy and low-cost solution for your immigration needs. Use INSWizard today, only at, your Path to America.

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