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Base Legal Office guides foreign-born service members through citizenship applications

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  – The U.S. is home to thousands of foreign-born service members and veterans who have honorably served, but are unaware that their service offers them distinct advantages when applying for citizenship. This results in thousands of eligible personnel not taking the steps to becoming citizens. 

The 66th Air Base Group Legal Office is available to help these service members understand their citizenship rights. 

An application for U.S. citizenship typically involves a five-year residency requirement, a state-of-residence requirement, and hundreds of dollars in application fees. However, based on honorable service to the U.S., veterans may be entitled to a waiver of those requirements and fees.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides two primary routes for service members to apply for U.S. citizenship:

The first isOne Year of Military Service During Peacetime.” Section 328 of the INA provides citizenship eligibility for service members who served for one year during a period of peacetime. Eligible personnel must:

  1. Be 18 or older;
  2. Have served honorably, during a period of peacetime, in the U.S. armed forces for a period or periods totaling one year;
  3. Have separated honorably, if separated;
  4. Be a lawful permanent resident at the time of your naturalization interview;
  5. Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government;
  7. Be a person of good moral character; and
  8. Demonstrate an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution. 

The second route includes “Service During Periods of Hostility.” Section 329 of the INA provides citizenship eligibility for service members who served for any amount of time during a period of hostilities.

Periods of hostilities designated by law are: Sept. 1, 1939, to Dec. 31, 1946; June 25, 1950, to July 1, 1955; Feb. 28, 1961, to Oct. 15 1978; Aug. 2, 1990, to April 11, 1991; and Sept. 11, 2001, to present. Eligible personnel must:

  1. Have served honorably in an active duty status for any amount of time during a designated period of hostilities;
  2. Have separated honorably, if separated;
  3. Have been lawfully admitted as a legal permanent resident at any time after enlistment or have been physically present in the U.S. at the time of enlistment;
  4. Be able to read, write, and speak basic English;
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government;
  6. Be a person of good moral character; and
  7. Demonstrate an attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

Regardless of which provision of the INA service members fall under, members must prepare forms N-400, Application for Naturalization, and N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service

Service members have several advantages in the filing process as well, including a waiver of application fees and the ability to file while either home or abroad. Additionally, www.USCIS.gov contains free study materials for the application interview and civics test. 

Legal assistance attorneys are available to discuss options regarding naturalization and can help answer questions regarding application documents. 

For further information or questions about eligibility for U.S. citizenship due to military service, contact the Legal Office at 781- 225-1410.