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Immigration Questions and Answers
for Members of the Military

 soldiers and immigration

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers immigration services and resources specifically for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families who are stationed in the United States and abroad. USCIS established a military assistance team to ensure that the military community receives quick and secure access to accurate information. Below is a list of answers to frequently asked questions received by our military assistance team. 

Adjustments

Q.  I am in the military and want to file an I-130 on behalf of my spouse or child. What evidence do I need to provide?

A. You must provide specific information to establish the bona fides of the relationship between you, the petitioner, and your spouse or child.  You will need to provide evidence of the claimed relationship:

  • If you are filing the petition on behalf of an alien spouse, evidence establishing a bona fide marriage between you and the alien
  • If you are filing the petition on behalf of an alien child, evidence establishing a parent-child relationship between you and the child

Military-specific evidence can be deemed as strong evidence towards the bona fides of the marriage.  Such evidence may include but is not limited to the following: 

  • All pages of the service member’s Form DD-1172, “Application for Uniformed Services Identification Card DEERS Enrollment,” naming dependents 
  • Dependent’s Military Identification and Privilege Card
  • Form DD-1278, “Certificate of Overseas Assignment to Support Application to File Petition for Naturalization” 
  • Copy of Permanent Change of Station (PCS) orders issued to the service member for permanent tour of duty overseas that specifically name the spouse or child
  • Designation of the beneficiary on the military members’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policy
  • Documentation showing that the spouse and/or child resides in military base/post housing
  • Living will and/or last will and testament

Q.  I am a conditional resident alien residing abroad with my military member spouse.  Where should I file the Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence (Form I-751)?

A. File your Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence (Form I-751) with the applicable USCIS Service Center based on your state of residence in the United States (see I-751 filing instructions). In addition to submitting the required evidence outlined in the form instructions, the petition must be accompanied by evidence of your military spouse’s overseas assignment, such as a photocopy of the official orders or a letter from your spouse’s commanding officer that states that you are authorized to reside abroad with the military member.

Q.  My spouse is in the military and stationed or deployed abroad.  Will USCIS accept the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) without my spouse’s (the petitioner’s) signature?

A. Yes.  USCIS will accept the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) without the petitioner’s signature if it is accompanied by the required evidence outlined in the form instructions along with evidence of the military member’s assignment abroad, such as a photocopy of the official orders or a letter from the military member’s commanding officer.  Contact the Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) to notify USCIS when you return to the U.S.

Q.  I am a conditional resident alien and a military member stationed or deployed abroad.  My conditional resident status will expire prior to my return to the United States.  Can my spouse file the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) without my signature?

A. Yes.  USCIS will accept Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) without the beneficiary’s signature if it is signed by the petitioner spouse and accompanied by the required evidence outlined in the form instructions along with evidence of the military member’s assignment abroad, such as a photocopy of the official orders or a letter from the commanding officer that states that he or she is authorized to reside abroad. Contact the Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) to notify USCIS when you return to the U.S.

Q.  I am a military member stationed abroad with my dependents.  Can my dependents have their interviews for the Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence (Form I-751) conducted overseas?

A. No.  The interviews for Form I-751 are only conducted domestically.  In many cases where the appropriate evidence is submitted as outlined in the form instructions, an interview may not be required.  If you and your dependents are stationed abroad and USCIS determines that an interview is required, USCIS will place the case on “overseas hold” until your dependents are available for an interview at a domestic USCIS office.  Contact the Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) to notify USCIS when you return to the U.S. 

Q.  I am a military member and I received an Approval Notice for my Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) filed on behalf of my spouse or family member. What is the next step? 

A. The Department of State’s National Visa Center will provide instructions on what you will need to do to obtain a visa.  Please visit the Department of State website at http://travel.state.gov/visa/ for more information. 

Naturalization and Citizenship

Q.   I am a military naturalization applicant.  When am I permitted to file my Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)?

A.   If you are applying for naturalization under Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (naturalization through U.S. military service during a designated period of hostility), you may file the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) once you have completed one day of honorable service on active duty or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.  In most cases, the earliest you can submit your application is during basic training.  Individuals in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) are typically not eligible to apply. 

If you are applying for naturalization under Section 328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (naturalization with one year or more of U.S. military service), you may file the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) as soon as you become a Lawful Permanent Resident and have completed one year of honorable military service. 

USCIS will reject applications filed before you meet eligibility, which will delay the processing of your application. 

Q.  I filed an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400), based on qualifying military service and am required to submit Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426).  How do I fulfill this requirement?

A. Many military installations have a designated USCIS liaison to help you with the application process and certify your Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service.  Ask your chain of command for the contact information for this person.  Your installation’s personnel or legal office may also be able to assist you. 

If you have separated from the military and no longer have access to a USCIS liaison, you have the following options:

Option 1. USCIS will accept Form N-426 uncertified if you complete the form and submit with a photocopy of your DD-214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. The photocopy of your DD-214 must include all dates of military service listed on Form N-426 as well as identify your type of separation and character of service (this information is found on page “Member-4”.)

Option 2. If you are unable to submit a photocopy of your DD Form 214, you can contact your branch of service’s military personnel records center. You can obtain this information from Standard Form 180, www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf, or the U.S. Armed Forces Legal Assistance Locator, http://legalassistance.law.af.mil/content/locator.php.  

Q.  I am separated from the military and want to apply for naturalization based on my military service.  Does my discharge type (character of service) matter for naturalization eligibility? 

A.  Yes.  You must have received an Honorable or General Under Honorable Conditions discharge in order to be eligible for naturalization under the military provisions, section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 

Q.  What is the fee for the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) filed by spouses of military members?

A.  There is no fee for a current or former military member to file an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400).  The fee for non-military members (including military family members) for the Application for Naturalization is $680 (which includes a biometrics fee of $85).  Individuals who reside abroad at the time of filing the naturalization application are not required to pay the biometrics fee.  Military family members filing a naturalization application from within the United States should submit a single check or money order of $680 made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Military family members filing a naturalization application from abroad should submit a single check or money order of $595, made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A family member applicant may apply for a fee waiver based on economic need (income below the poverty guidelines, see Form I-864 for details on poverty guidelines) and may use Form I-912 to apply for Fee Waiver.

Q. I recently enlisted in the military and am not a citizen.  How can I apply for naturalization while in basic training?  

A. Bring your completed Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) and a Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (Form N-426) with you to basic training.  Depending on your branch of service and unit, you may have the opportunity to submit your application packet, have your naturalization interview, and take the Oath of Allegiance to become a U.S. citizen before you graduate from basic training.  Keep in mind that this initiative is not yet available at all military installations – check with your recruiter or basic training instructor to see if your training site participates.  Refer to the USCIS Document Checklist (M-477) for a list of documents that you may need to submit with your application packet.  

Q.  My Application for Naturalization was denied, and I would like to appeal the decision.  How can I do so?  Is there a fee?

A.  You may file Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA), with the local field office.  Effective November 23, 2010, there is no fee for Form N-336 if filed by an applicant who has filed an Application for Naturalization under sections 328 or 329 of the INA (i.e., who is a member or veteran of any branch of the United States Armed Forces) and whose application has been denied.

Q.  I derived citizenship through my parent, but would like to obtain a Certificate of Citizenship. How can I do so? Is there a fee?

A.  You must file the Application for Certificate of Citizenship (Form N-600).  There is no fee for Form N-600 when filed by a member or veteran of any branch of the United States Armed Forces. The member or veteran must attach proof of service; otherwise USCIS will charge a fee to file the Form N-600.

Q.  I am a military member stationed abroad with my dependents.  Can my dependents have their naturalization interviews conducted overseas?

A. Yes.  Certain spouses or children of service members residing abroad with that service member (as authorized by official orders) may be eligible to become naturalized citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process.  Please see “Fact Sheet:  Requirements for Naturalization Abroad by Spouses of Members of the U.S. Armed Forces” and “Overseas Naturalization Eligibility for Certain Children of U.S. Armed Forces Members” onwww.uscis.gov/military for more information.

If you have an appointment for a naturalization interview and you have transferred overseas, contact USCIS by calling the Military Help Line by telephone:  1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) or email:  militaryinfo.nsc@dhs.gov and request to have your case transferred to your nearest USCIS overseas office.

 

Submitting Biometrics

Q.  I am an active duty military member and am required to submit biometrics at a USCIS Application Support Center (ASC). Do I need an appointment?

A. No.  Active duty military members do not need an appointment and will be accepted on a walk-in basis at any ASC in the United States.  You should bring your military ID with you to the ASC. 

Q. Can I submit fingerprints before I file the Application for Naturalization (Form N-400)?

A. Yes.  You may submit fingerprints even if you have not yet submitted an Application for Naturalization. 

Q.  Where can military members or dependents that are living abroad go to have the fingerprints taken?

A. Military members and dependents stationed abroad can submit 2 properly completed FD-258 Fingerprint Cards taken by the Military Police, Department of Homeland Security officials or U.S. Embassy or Consulate officials. 

Q. If my military installation does not use FD-258, can I submit another type of fingerprint document instead?

A. FD-258 is the preferred document used to submit fingerprint, however USCIS may be able to accept a comparable document, such as the Department of Defense SF-87, in place of the FD-258.  Please contact the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) for more information.

General Information

Q.  What are the criteria to have an application or petition expedited for military personnel?

A.  USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of situations that may qualify for expedited processing include:

  • Pending military deployment
  • Extreme emergent situation
  • Humanitarian situation

Please contact your local USCIS office or the USCIS Military Help Line at 1 877 CIS 4MIL (1-877-247-4645) for more information.

Q.  I am an active duty military member stationed abroad.  How do I check the status of my application?

A. You can check their status of any application by clicking on the “Check My Case Status” link on the right-hand side of this page. Note: when checking the status of an I-751, you must use the receipt number from the ASC appointment notice. You may also call the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645).

Q. I am scheduled to deploy in the near future.  How do I notify USCIS?

A. If you have not yet submitted an application or petition to USCIS, write in bold letters, “I have an upcoming deployment” on the first page of the application/petition, or on a cover sheet attached to your application. If you have already submitted your application and need to notify USCIS of an upcoming deployment, contact the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645) as soon as possible. 

Family Members

Q.  My child was born overseas while I was residing abroad on military orders.  Is my child a United States Citizen?

A.  In most cases, children born abroad to a U.S. citizen military parent acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.  To be sure, as soon as possible after the birth, you will need to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  If the consulate determines that the child has acquired U.S. citizenship, a consular officer prepares a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (Form FS-240). This document serves as proof of U.S. citizenship, and it is acceptable evidence of citizenship for obtaining a passport, entering school, and other purposes. 

Q. I want to adopt a child while I am stationed abroad.  Is this possible?

A. Yes, you may go through the adoption process while you are stationed abroad.  Visit www.uscis.gov/adoptions and the State Department adoption website at http://adoption.state.govfor more information.  You may also email the USCIS National Benefits Center at NBC.adoptions@dhs.gov.  Please note that there are no special adoption processes or special provisions available to military families.   The requirements for each of the three different types of adoption cases (Hague adoptions, Orphan adoptions, and Other adoptions) are discussed at www.uscis.gov/adoptions

Also visit www.uscis.gov and click on the link for “Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States” for more information about U.S. citizenship for your child after adoption.  If you are a military member stationed abroad, visit the Form N-600K page under the “Forms” link and the “Biological or Adopted Children Residing Outside the United States” page for information about obtaining U.S. citizenship for your child after adoption.   

Q. Are there any benefits for surviving relatives of service members who died while serving on active duty? 

A. Yes. Please visit the link to “M-601, Survivor Benefits for Non-Citizen Relatives of Military Personnel” located at www.uscis.gov/military for benefit information for surviving family members. 

Other Information

Q.  What are the criteria to have an application or petition expedited for military personnel?

A.  USCIS reviews all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis. Some examples of situations that may qualify for expedited processing include:

  • Pending military deployment 
  • Extreme emergent situation 
  • Humanitarian situation

Please contact your local USCIS office or the USCIS Military Help Line at 1 877 CIS 4MIL (1-877-247-4645) for more information.

Q. I am scheduled to deploy in the near future.  How do I notify USCIS?

A. If you have not yet submitted an application or petition to USCIS, write in bold letters, “I have an upcoming deployment” on the first page of the application/petition, or on a cover sheet attached to your application. If you have already submitted your application and need to notify USCIS of an upcoming deployment, contact the USCIS Military Help Line at 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1 877 247 4645) as soon as possible.

Q. I am serving abroad on active duty.  How do I notify USCIS of my new address?

A.  Members of the military can notify USCIS of their new address by contacting the Military Help Line by e-mail: militaryinfo.nsc@dhs.gov, or telephone: 1 877 247-4645.  You may also go to www.uscis.gov and complete the AR-11 online to change your address. It is important to notify USCIS every time your address changes so that you will continue to receive information and correspondence about your immigration status.

If are stationed in the U.S., you can also change your address with your local USCIS office by making an Infopass appointment through the USCIS website at http://infopass.uscis.gov/

Q.  Where can military members or family members that are living abroad submit fingerprints?

A.  Some applicants may not need to submit fingerprints if USCIS already has fingerprints on file that the applicant submitted for another USCIS application.  If no fingerprints are on file and the applicant is a military member, USCIS may be able to obtain and use fingerprints captured when the military member enlisted.  If USCIS cannot obtain or use those prints, military members and family members stationed abroad can submit fingerprints electronically to USCIS through a mobile fingerprint unit, where available.  Contact your local USCIS office or U.S. consulate for mobile fingerprint unit availability.  If a mobile fingerprint unit is not available, you may submit 2 properly completed FD-258 Fingerprint Cards taken by the Military Police, Department of Homeland Security officials or U.S. Embassy or Consulate officials. 

Mail the FD-258 cards to:
USCIS Nebraska Service Center
PO Box 87426
Lincoln NE 68501-7426


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