Citizenship through military service

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Individuals who aren’t citizens of the United States but who have served honorably in active duty in the military forces of the United States during periods of armed conflict may be expeditiously naturalized as American citizens if an executive order is granted from the president of the United States. In the past, executive orders for expedited naturalization have been granted to veterans of World War I (one) and II (two), the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. More recently, President Clinton signed an executive order granting expedited naturalization to aliens and non-citizen nationals who served during the Persian Gulf Conflict. The main goal of the order is to make it unnecessary for Gulf War veterans to obtain permanent resident status prior to applying for naturalization. The executive order becomes effective the day it’s issued. For Gulf War veterans, the date is November 22, 1994. If you qualify, you may apply for naturalization immediately. Keep in mind that there’s no expiration date for when you can apply. Furthermore, court decisions hold that the president may designate only the period of time when individuals must serve in the military, but may not limit the locations where the service took place. As a result, if you never left the United States while on active duty during the Persian Gulf conflict, you’re still qualified to apply for naturalization under the executive order. In general, as long as you served in the military for any period of time during periods of armed conflict, you may apply for naturalization. However, you must return to the U.S. in order to apply for your citizenship and will still be required to satisfy other requirements for naturalization, including establishing good moral character, loyalty to the United States, and knowledge of the English language and American history and government. You may apply at whichever Immigration and Naturalization office you wish since there are no residency requirements.

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