California Immigration Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in U.S. Military

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USCIS has recently published a new fact sheet of common questions and answers for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The fact sheet contains the most frequently asked questions that USCIS receives.

The fact sheet is worth reading if you are in the Armed Forces because the answers to some of the questions are different (and usually more advantageous) to members and/or dependents of those in the Armed Forces. For instance, if you are a civilian, obtained your green card through a marriage to a U.S. Citizen and you have been married for less than two years, you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence to remove the conditional residence and obtain your permanent green card. You must file this form even if you intend on applying for citizenship a year later. (Persons who are married to U.S. citizens may apply for citizenship in three years.)

Members of the armed forces do not have to file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence to remove conditional residence obtained through a marriage to a U.S. Citizen, if the foreign born spouse was inducted or enlisted in the military and is applying for naturalization based on qualifying military service. Thus, military personnel are permitted to “skip a step” and do not need to file form I-751.

Additional questions and answers and helpful email addresses to USCIS liaisons are included on the fact sheet.

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Today I will be giving a presentation on immigration law along with my colleague, V. Thomas Langford, to the Air Force JAG serving at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. The Air Force JAG Corps are lawyers who provide legal advice to those serving in the Air Force.

Our training today will focus on the basics of immigration law. We will be covering family-based immigration law and outlining the procedures involved in petitioning for a family member to immigrate to the United States. We will also be talking about the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”) and how an individual may self-petition for immigration status if he or she has been the victim of abuse or mental cruelty. Finally, we will discuss the naturalization laws as they apply to those serving in the military at a time of a conflict.

It seems that I always learn something while preparing for a presentation. While preparing for this one, I learned that staff from USCIS in Sacramento go to Travis Air Force Base twice a month to interview applicants for naturalization and administer the oath of citizenship on the same day. Kudos to USCIS for taking the time to do this. USCIS has an entire website page devoted to military naturalization ceremonies performed in May 2009. Included on it is the photo taken at Travis.

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United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has recently published new guidance on the type of proof veterans may provide to establish eligibility for naturalization. In the past,when applying for naturalization pursuant to Sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Naturalization through service in the Armed Forces or Naturalization through active-duty in the Armed Forces during certain specified periods of hostilities), veterans were required to submit a certified Form N-426, Certificate of Military or Naval Service. It was quite burdensome for veterans to obtain a certified Form N-426 when they were no longer on active duty because they had to request certification by sending it to the military records center for certification. It added delay to an already lengthy process.

Now USCIS has issued a new memo indicating they will accept an uncertified Form N-426 from a veteran applicant for naturalization if all of the following conditions have been met:

  1. The applicant is separated from the Armed Forces at the time of filing Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization);
  2. The applicant submitted a completed but uncertified Form N-426;
  3. The applicant submitted a photocopy of his or her DD Form(s) 214 (report of separation) for all periods of time captured on Form N-426; and
  4. The DD Form 214 lists information on the type of separation and character of service.

When all four conditions are met, the Nebraska Service Center will process the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization accompanied by an uncertified Form N-426.

You may find the entire text of the USCIS memo here: Acceptance of DD Form 214 as Certification of Military or Naval Service for Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

For more information on military naturalization, please see my previous post on “USCIS releases fact sheet on military naturalization.”

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Photo by US Army Korea IMCOM

Today, United States and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a fact sheet on the naturalization process for members serving in the military. Individuals who serve in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, certain components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve may be eligible for expedited naturalization.

The fact sheet, Naturalization process for the military, specifies the requirements for naturalization in peace time and in war time. It also contains information on the documents an applicant needs to submit in order to apply for naturalization.

Also of interest are the statistics on the number of military personnel naturalized. For instance, since 2001, USCIS has naturalized 45,019 service men and women serving both in and outside of the United States. In addition, USCIS has granted posthumous citizenship to 188 members of the U.S. Armed forces since September 2002. There are additional statistics available on the fact sheet such as naturalization by country of origin.

It is nice to have all the information about military naturalization in one place.

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Effective January 22, 2009, residents of California will need to mail their naturalization applications to a new address. The new address is:
USCIS
P.O. Box 21251
Phoenix, AZ 85036

If you wish to file the application via courier or express mail, the address is:
USCIS
Attn: N-400
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S Floor 1
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you are in the armed forces or you a spouse of a member of the armed forces, you must file your naturalization application with the Nebraska Service Center, regardless of where you actually reside. The address is:

Nebraska Service Center
P.O. Box 87426
Lincoln, NE 68501–7426

The courier address for the Nebraska Service Center is:
Nebraska Service Center
850 S. Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

If you would like to see the entire Federal Register announcement listing all locations, you may access it here: Revision to Direct Mail Program for Submitting N-400.

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Apparently due to a shortage of skilled medical and language professionals in the armed forces, the Department of Defense (“DoD”), is recruiting individuals who have critical skills to the military. The critical skills include: doctors, nurses, and “certain experts in language with associated cultural backgrounds.” They have identified 35 languages which are considered “vital to the DoD.” The Department of Defense is running this program for a year and hopes to recruit 1000 people.

In order to be eligible for the program, an applicant must:

1. Be in one of the following categories at the time of enlistment:
a. refugee, asylee, Temporary Protected Status (“TPS”) or
b. in one of the nonimmigrant categoreis: E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD,
TN, U, or V.

2. Have been in one of the above categories for two years prior to the enlistment but does not
need to be in the same category in the present time;

3. Not have had a single absence from the U.S. more than 90 days during the two years
prior to the enlistment date.

There are additional requirements specific to health care professionals and people with language abilities. For more information on this pilot program, you may read the Department of Defense Fact Sheet.

The DOD notes that members of the Armed Forces are eligible for expedited citizenship under a July 2002 Executive Order. Thus, the possibility of citizenship is the carrot which the DOD is using with the hope that it will lure foreign nationals to the armed services.