FORT IRWIN, Calif. — 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 (USCIS) and the Department of Defense have worked out ways to simplify the 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
On Oct. 13, 2017, the Department of Defense announced a change to its expedited naturalization process for military members. Under the current policy, a foreign national entering service in the active, reserve, or guard service must comply with the following requirements for purposes of expedited naturalization (citizenship):
• Complete all security and suitability screening requirements and receive a favorable military suitability determination (MSSD), and;
• Complete the initial military training requirements of the service of which they are a member, and;
• Complete at least 180 consecutive days of active duty service, or at least one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve.
Family Members of military personnel
If you are a spouse of a service member who is or will be stationed/deployed abroad for one year or more you may qualify for expedited naturalization as long as you are a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) 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 consider applying for a Parole in Place exception. USCIS may approve the spouse, child or parents of a Service member to apply for a 1 year grant titled “Parole in Place” based on the Service member’s request. If you feel you may qualify for this benefit please 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 and assistance on Parole in Place procedures.
It is important to note that any of the above mentioned immigrations status’ 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 please visit the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office at Bldg. 230 or call 760-380-5321. Hours of operation are 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, closed 9 a.m.-noon, Thursdays.
USCIS has established a toll-free “Military Help Line” exclusively for members of the military and their families: 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645)