Naturalization Preference


Honorable active-duty service in the U.S. armed forces during a designated period of hostility allows an individual to naturalize without being required to establish any periods of residence or physical presence in the United States.  A service member who was in the United States, certain territories, or aboard an American public vessel at the time of enlistment, re-enlistment, extension of enlistment or induction, may naturalize even if he or she is not a lawful permanent resident.


On July 3, 2002, the president issued Executive Order 13269 establishing a new period of hostility for naturalization purposes beginning Sept. 11, 2001, and continuing until a date designated by a future Executive Order.  Qualifying members of the armed forces who have served at any time during a specified period of hostility may immediately apply for naturalization using the current application – Form N-400 -- “Application for Naturalization.”


Individuals who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces, but were no longer serving on active duty status as of Sept. 11, 2001, may still be naturalized without having to comply with the residence and physical presence requirements for naturalization if they filed Form N-400 while still serving in the U.S. armed forces or within six months of termination of their active duty service.  An individual who files the application for naturalization after the six-month period following termination of active-duty service is not exempt from the residence and physical presence requirements, but can count any period of active-duty service towards the residence and physical presence requirements.  Individuals seeking naturalization under this provision must establish that they are lawful permanent residents (such status not having been lost, rescinded or abandoned) and that they served honorably in the U.S. armed forces for at least one year.


If a service member dies as a result of injury or disease incurred or aggravated by service during a time of combat, the service member’s survivor(s) can apply for the deceased service member to receive posthumous citizenship at any time within two years of the service member’s death. The issuance of a posthumous certificate of citizenship does not confer U.S. citizenship on surviving relatives.  However, a non-U.S. citizen spouse or qualifying family member may file for certain immigration benefits and services based upon their relationship to a service member who died during hostilities or a non-citizen service member who died during hostilities and was later granted posthumous citizenship.