Legal assistance office provides immigration, naturalization services

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Applying for citizenship can be a very daunting and drawn out process for everyone.

Fortunately for Soldiers and their families, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of Defense have worked out ways to fast track this process. If you are not a U.S. citizen and have not already applied to become a U.S. Citizen, you should make an appointment with the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office for assistance with applying.

Rights of military personnel.

As a Soldier, you have expedited filing rights. During a “peacetime” period, Soldiers need only to serve one year honorably and be a permanent resident on the date of the interview to become a citizen.

However, during “periods of hostilities” Soldiers need only serve one day honorably and are not required to be a permanent resident at the time of the interview. Currently we are under a period of hostility for Operation Enduring Freedom, September 11, 2001 – present. In addition, qualifying military service can be met by service in the active duty, the Army Reserve or National Guard.

Additionally, the fee is waived for military personnel to file.

Family members of military personnel

If you are a spouse of a servicemember who is or will be stationed/deployed abroad for one year or more you qualify for expedited naturalization as long as you are a legal permanent resident at the time of the naturalization interview. Currently, there is no expedited processing to become a LPR.

If you are not here legally – meaning you do not have a green card or your visa has expired – you should apply for a parole in place exception. The USCIS may approve the spouse, child or parents of a servicemember to apply for a one year grant titled “Parole in Place” based on the servicemember’s request. If you feel you are entitled to this benefit, review the USCIS Policy Memo PM-602-0091 (dated Nov. 15, 2013) and apply accordingly. Visit the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office for further advice on Parole in Place procedures.

It is important to note that any of the above mentioned immigration statuses can be revoked and you can be subject to deportation for post-naturalization misconduct. As a Soldier, your discharge characterization could become a bar to citizenship or a potential denaturalization.

If you have any further questions regarding your specific status, contact the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office (building 241) by calling 380-5321. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Friday; the office is closed 9 a.m. to noon on Thursdays.

The USCIS has established a toll-free “Military Help Line” exclusively for members of the military and their families: 1-877-CIS-4MIL (247-4645).

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