Special provisions in the United States Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) enable foreign nationals who have served or are serving in the military to apply for naturalization and become U.S. citizens. Current members of the armed forces or veterans are exempt from some naturalization requirements including certain fees and residency requirements.

Still, the process of obtaining naturalization through military duty in San Diego does require several steps and applicants must meet eligibility requirements. Fortunately, one of the attorneys at our firm could help you determine if you are eligible to apply for citizenship through your military service.

Applicable Provisions of the INA

There are separate military provisions in the INA, one that applies to those who served in the U.S. armed forces during peacetime and another that applies to current members of the military and those who served during certain designated periods of armed conflict.

Section 328 of the INA applies to those who served honorably for at least one year (either continuously or in separate periods of service adding up to one year) during peacetime and Section 329 applies to those who served on active duty status or in the reserves during periods of armed conflict, which includes the years 2001 up to the present.

Eligibility for Naturalization Based on Military Service

The requirements for eligibility may be amended by Executive Order or regulations, but generally to be eligible for naturalization through military duty an applicant in San Diego must:

  • Have served honorably (or be currently serving) in the U.S. armed forces for the period of time specified by regulation
  • Submit a Form N-426 to certify their military service and any other forms as required
  • Have status as a lawful permanent resident at the time of the examination
  • Fulfill specified physical presence and residence requirements
  • Be able to speak, read and write the English language
  • Prove knowledge of U.S. history and government function
  • Demonstrate at least five years of good moral character prior to the time of application for naturalization
  • Prove loyalty to the principles of the Constitution of the U.S.

A lawyer in San Diego could help someone determine if they are eligible to apply for naturalization through their military service. 

The Process of Applying for Citizenship Based on Military Service

In San Diego, those eligible for naturalization on the basis on military duty may begin the process by contacting a liaison with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or start by going through the chain of command to certify military service via a form N-426.

An applicant should fill out the applicable section of Form N-400 “Application for Naturalization” and submit it to the appropriate USCIS office. The application is then reviewed and required security checks are conducted based on fingerprints.

If the applicant’s fingerprints are not already on file, the fingerprint image may be submitted through an Application Support Center or via a mobile fingerprint unit at a participating military installation or on FD-258 fingerprint cards for applicants stationed abroad.

When the application is complete, USCIS reviews it and an interview with the applicant is scheduled. Applicants may request a specific location for the interview, such as the field office. At the interview, staff review the applicant’s eligibility for naturalization, including an examination of the applicant’s knowledge of government, history and English. Applicants determined to be eligible for naturalization receive notice of the date on which they can take the Oath of Allegiance to become a U.S. citizen.

Contact a San Diego Attorney to Learn More About Naturalization Through Military Duty

Those interested in learning more about the specific requirements of eligibility for naturalization through military duty in San Diego or the application process should speak with an attorney from our firm. We could guide you through every step of this process as well as address any concerns you may have. To get started, call today.