U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) celebrates Veterans Day this year by honoring immigrants and their families who serve the nation in the military and by administering the Oath of Allegiance to more than 1,600 people– America’s newest citizens. Since Oct.1, 2001, USCIS has naturalized more than 125,000 military members to U.S. citizens.
The Veterans Day Weekend ceremonies are intended to “honor the sacrifices military members and their families make by serving our country according to a USCIS release on the Veteran’s Day events. The celebrations, which includes 23 Veterans Day-themed naturalization ceremonies around the country, will welcome veterans, service members and military spouses as American citizens.
USCIS touts an expedited commitment in naturalization application processes for both current and former members of the military “wherever they are.” In addition to offering expedited naturalization applications, USCIS also provides specialized customer service– including a dedicated phone line (877-CIS-4MIL)– for these patriotic immigrants. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) also includes other special considerations for members of the military looking for naturalization status. For instance, members of the military are exempt from application filing fees. In addition, immigrants in the military might receive waivers for certain other naturalization requirements– physical presence in the U.S. for any length of time, for example. Of the 125,000 members of the military who’ve become U.S. citizens since Oct. 1, 2001, more than 11,000 of these immigrants swore the Oath of Allegiance to the United States in over 35 foreign countries.
Generally speaking, military members apply for naturalization under Section 328 in peacetime or Section 329 during times of conflict under INA. Under Section 328, the requirements include one year of honorable service in the U.S. armed forces for a single period of one year or multiple periods totaling one year. Under Section 329, immigrants serving honorably in an active-duty status or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve during times of conflict. USCIS lists these periods as:
- Sept. 1, 1939 – Dec. 31, 1946
- June 25, 1950 – July 1, 1955
- Feb. 28, 1961 – Oct. 15, 1978
- Aug. 2, 1990 – April 11, 1991
- Sept. 11, 2001 – present
“Supporting our military members, veterans and those currently serving, as well as their families, is of utmost importance to our agency,” USCIS Director Francis Cissna said in a written statement. “I am honored to be part of USCIS on this important day, and I thank all our military members for their duty to this great country.”
The full schedule of Veterans Day-themed ceremonies, which run through the first couple weeks of November, is available on the USCIS site.