The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is time consuming and riddled with legal hurdles. Most immigrants who wish to become a naturalized citizen must reside in the United States for at least five years, but there are several exceptions to this requirement, one of which applies to service members in the U.S. armed forces.
The naturalization process can be expedited for service members who served honorably during a period in which the U.S. military was engaged in armed conflict with a foreign force. In order for the process to be expedited, the individual seeking naturalization must submit Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service in addition to Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Also, the Secretary of the Military Department (or a delegated officer) where the applicant served must certify that he or she served under honorable conditions.
On Oct. 13, the Department of Defense released a memorandum that modified the requirements that must be met in order for a Secretary of the Military Department concerned to certify that an N-426 applicant’s service was honorable.
If you have questions about these changes or if you’re a service member who would like to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, contact my office to discuss your immigration goals. I stay up to date on all recent changes to U.S. immigration law, and I will help you avoid crucial mistakes that could lead to the denial of your application for naturalization. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey green card attorney from the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
New Rules for Service Members Seeking to Become Naturalized U.S. Citizens
Under the new rules, in order for the Secretary of the Military Department concerned to certify that the N-426 applicant’s service was under honorable conditions, the following must be true:
- The service member is not the subject of a pending disciplinary action or an adverse administrative proceeding or action, and is not the subject of a command or law enforcement investigation;
- The service member has completed the required suitability and screening requirements; and
- The service member completed the necessary basic training, served for a required period of time, and served under honorable conditions.
The DoD’s memorandum also instructed Military Departments to de-certify and recall any Form N-426 for a service member who meets all of the following criteria:
- The date of the service member’s accession was before Oct. 13;
- A complete application for naturalization including both Form N-426 and Form N-400 was submitted by the service member to USCIS, certifying the honorable service of the service member for naturalization purposes, signed by the Military Department concerned, and USCIS has not adjudicated such application or the member has not yet naturalized (if USCIS granted such application); and
- The applicable suitability and screening requirements have not yet been completed by the service member.
If you have questions about becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen or if your application was denied, contact my office to discuss your situation. Call 973-453-2009 to speak with an immigration lawyer in New Jersey.