Immigration benefits and Resources available to members of the military and their families

Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day and so in honor of the holiday I thought I would write about some of the immigration benefits and resources available to members of the military and their families.

  1.  Military Help Line

Members of the military can call United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) on a special number that is only for members of the military and their families.  The phone number is 1-877-CIS-4MIL or 1-877-247-4645.  Callers to the help line may obtain information on:

  • Tracking their Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
  • Notifying USCIS of a new mailing address or duty station.
  • Checking the status of any other application or petition.
  • Bringing a spouse, fiancé, or adopted child to the United States.
  • Obtaining posthumous citizenship for a deceased member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Submitting an application for expedited processing.

I have not actually tried calling this number but I am sure it is better than calling the regular USCIS customer service phone number – at least it must be faster.  You can find out more information about the military help line here.
2.  Citizenship for Spouses and/or Children of Military Members
Expedited citizenship for spouses of military members
Spouses of U.S. citizen service members who are (or will be) deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization in the United States under Section 319(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In general, an applicant for naturalization under section 319(b) of the INA must:

  • Be age 18 or older
  • Establish that his or her U.S. citizen spouse is deployed abroad as a service member
  • Be present in the U.S. pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence (green card holder) at the time of examination on the naturalization application
  • Be present in the U.S. at the time of naturalization
  • Declare in good faith upon naturalization an intent to reside abroad with the U.S. citizen spouse and to reside in the U.S. immediately upon the citizen spouse’s termination of service abroad
  • Be able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Have a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (civics)
  • Have been, and continue to be, a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the U.S. during all relevant periods under the law

If you find yourself in this situation, you should call the Military Help Line to verify the fastest way to expedite the naturalization application.  It is also possible to naturalize abroad if your spouse is deployed abroad.
3.  Children of military members
Children may also naturalize abroad but must meet different requirements.    You may learn more about the requirements here.
4.  Survivor Benefits for Relatives of U.S. Citizen Military Members
No one wants to think about the U.S. Citizen passing away.  Nevertheless, if the U.S. Citizen dies while in combat on active duty status, the surviving spouse and  children may be entitled to apply for immigrant status as long as they file for it within two years of the U.S. Citizen’s death. The surviving spouse and/or child may also be eligible for citizenship.  For more information about this, click here.
5.  U.S. Citizenship via military service
Members of the U.S. armed forces may be eligible for citizenship by qualifying for naturalization through military service under Section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  There are three ways of obtaining naturalization through military service.  

  • Naturalization through one year of qualifying service during “peacetime”
  • Naturalization through Qualifying Service during Periods of Hostilities
  • Posthumous Citizenship for Military members

I may devote blog posts on more specific issues relating to the military later, but for now, know that you should take advantage of your military service to obtain some benefits.  The fastest relative petition that I have worked on to receive an approval was for the spouse of an airman so I know that the expedited processing can work.
Hope you all have a meaningful Veteran’s Day.

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The Law Office of Geri N. Kahn assists San Francisco Bay Area residents with immigration and Social Security disability cases.
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