No, immigrants and aliens can serve in the military. Non-citizens are eligible to enlist in the military but cannot be commissioned. Further, they must meet certain requirements to be eligible for enrollment.
First, if the person wishing to serve is an immigrant, they must go through the immigration process through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Second, the immigrant must obtain a green card and/or visa, which must be valid for the entire period of his or her enlistment.
An alien can also enroll in the armed forced. To enroll, the alien must have an Alien Registration Receipt card (stamped I-94 or I-551 Green card/INS Form I-551). Also, the alien must have an established record that the United States is his or her home. A waiver may be required if the non-citizen comes from a country that is generally hostile toward the United States.
It’s important to note that illegal immigrants are not permitted to enroll in the military.
Can Serving in the Military Expedite U.S. Citizenship?
Yes. For their service, members who serve in the United States armed forces can expedite naturalization. Whereas most naturalization applicants need five years continuous permanent residency in the U.S., or three years if sponsored by a U.S. citizen spouse, military personnel can obtain U.S. citizenship much more quickly and do not need to have continuous residency in the United States.
Moreover, most naturalization applicants must be physically present in the United States for 30 months (or 18 months if sponsored), but military personnel can avoid this requirement altogether. Finally, their USCIS filing fee (which typically costs nearly $800 dollars) is also waived.
What Forms Must Military Service Members Fill Out for Naturalization?
Applicants for naturalization serving in the military (or who have served in the military) usually must submit a Form N-426, “Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service”. This request is submitted to the Department of Defense and is for current or former members of the armed forces who are applying for naturalization.
It should be signed by the appropriate military personnel, and must be submitted along with Form N-400. Service members must meet the same requirements as anyone else applying for naturalization as a U.S. citizen. They are required to demonstrate knowledge of the U.S. government and history, and they must be able to read, speak, and write English. They must be of good moral character.
Can Naturalization be Revoked?
Yes, under specific circumstances, including:
- Discovery of fraud in a naturalization application;
- Evidence of a criminal record;
- Discovery that the applicant was discharged from the military under “other than honorable condition.”
Therefore, while immigrants and aliens serving in the military can enjoy certain privileges in applying for naturalization, naturalization can ultimately be revoked in certain circumstances.
Should I Speak to an Attorney Regarding Military Service and U.S. Citizenship?
Immigration and citizenship laws can often be complex, especially for a person who is serving in the armed forces. It’s to your advantage to hire an immigration lawyer for advice regarding U.S. military service and citizenship applications. Your lawyer can help review your application and other important documents to ensure that you’re meeting all the various requirements. Also, if any hearings are required, your attorney can guide you during the process.