Citizenship Through Service

Serving in the military entitles the service member to certain benefits. We most often see this during the pay period through housing allowances, hazardous duty pay and additional pay for food. Some states offer veterans discounted educational opportunities and preferential points on job applications. What many people are not aware of is the federal incentive of joining the service to provide for expedited citizenship for both the service member and dependents.

During times of peace, military service members who have served honorably for at least one year in the armed forces, have previously become permanent residents (green card holders), and have submitted an application to be naturalized as a citizen within six months of separation may qualify for citizenship.

Once those requirements are met, the minimum qualifications for citizenship are that an individual have knowledge of the English Language, be of good moral character, be familiar with the U.S. government process and history, and have taken an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution. There is an associated test which goes along with the process in which the naturalizing individual is asked questions that must be answered within these categories.

CitizenshipDuring times of war, the requirements are different. On July 3, 2002, the President authorized all non U.S. citizens who served honorably since September 11, 2001 to file for citizenship. This has resulted in more than 107,000 service members becoming U.S. citizens both here and abroad.

Military service does not just benefit the service member though. Family members are included in the citizenship opportunities. If a service member is deployed, or is likely to become deployed, spouses and dependents can apply for citizenship. Most of the qualifications remain the same as during peacetime, except that they must be 18 or older as well. If the service member and dependents are stationed at overseas locations during the deployment, as long as the dependents are on the PCS orders to the location they can come.

The reasons that people have for becoming United States citizens are as varied as for joining the military in the first place. Citizenship has many benefits which are recognized both here and abroad. The fact that honorable military service can aid in the expedited processing of citizenship is profound. It speaks to the selfless nature of service, to the dedication that one gives towards their country, and to the true appreciation and thanks from a grateful nation.

It is important to note that service alone does not constitute automatic citizenship. If a service member is separated for other than honorable reasons or does not serve five years honorably, they lose the right for expedited citizenship.

Either way, the good news is that there are options available for service members and their families to get ahead in the naturalization process. It impacts both their job prospects in the military in regards to security clearances, as well as sets them up for success on the civilian side as well for their transition.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Kyle Soler

Kyle Soler is an active duty Infantry Officer serving in the US Army. He has served in the military for more than 10 years, working his way from an Infantry Squad Leader to a Company Commander with multiple combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan in between. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Willamette University, and three Master degrees from Jones International University in Information Security Management, Health Care Management, and International Business. He also holds certifications in Six Sigma Lean and Six Sigma Lean Black Belt. His primary focus is realigning organizational priorities to get the most out of the time available in terms of training and development. Prior to entering military service, he worked as a fire fighter and an EMT. His areas of knowledge include military, training, leadership, disaster and continuity planning.
Kyle Soler

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