Six immigrant soldiers were recently honored by the Arkansas National Guard for receiving U.S. citizenship on October 9, 2012, according to North Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV. An individual does not need to be a citizen to serve in the U.S. military, but the new title allows the foreign nationals to feel more connected to the country they are serving.
“These men and women epitomize what America is all about—freedom, democracy and excellence,” Major General William Woffard told KTHV.
The six new citizens come from Panama, Mexico, Jamaica and South Korea. After making the ultimate commitment of joining the military, becoming a U.S. citizen will afford them other opportunities like better schools, immigration clearance and expedited naturalization for theirnoncitizen spouses.
In 2010, a new United States immigration law for Naturalization Through Military Service allows military personnel in the army, navy, air force, marine corps, coast guard and certain sectors of the national guard to apply for citizenship on the first day of basic training, according to the USCIS website. The standard naturalization process usually takes several years and hundreds of dollars, but for qualified members of the military, USCIS will waive fees and speed up the process.
To qualify, noncitizen enlistees must demonstrate knowledge of the English language, history and U.S. government, good moral character, and connection to the United States by taking the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, according to USCIS.
Individuals must obtain a naturalization application packet for consideration, which includes a USCIS N-400 Form and N-426 Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service Form.
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