Personal sacrifice is often thought of as routine for soldiers serving in the military. In reality, though, the sacrifice made by members of the military is one that reaches across to include soldiers’ families. In light of this, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) implements policies designed to recognize these important sacrifices made by members of the nation’s armed forces and their families.
Foreign-born soldiers who serve in one of the branches of the United States military—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard— receive expedited processing of naturalization applications by the USCIS. This favored status likewise extends to the families—spouse and children—of U.S. citizen soldiers in terms of expedited and overseas processing.
Adding Section 319(e) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), implemented by Congress in fiscal year 2008, the provision allows for some service member spouses to naturalize abroad, without requiring travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. The provision also “treats qualifying residence abroad as residence and physical presence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization.”
Additionally, NDAA for FY 2008 amends Section 322 of the INA. With the amendment, INA rules also allow eligible children of U.S. armed service members to avoid travel to the United States as they progress through the naturalization process. Section 322 also lets children of fallen U.S. soldiers apply for citizenship under INA Section 320 guidelines when application is made within five years of the parent soldier’s death.
At the top of the USCIS list in terms of serving foreign-born U.S. soldiers and their families is the agency’s commitment to timeliness, efficiency and stellar customer service. The agency’s commitment to these characteristics comes within the framework of maintaining the integrity and security of the immigration system.
The Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) is the gateway through which foreign-born members of the military are awarded citizenship. For these soldiers, Section 328 and 329 of the INA provide a specific outline of naturalization requirements—duration of service, discharge status, etc.– for “peacetime naturalization” as well as for naturalization during times of hostilities.
The United States has existed under the hostilities classification since Sept. 11, 2001.