Can You Be In The Military Without Being A...

Can You Be In The Military Without Being A Citizen


The Us Military Helps Naturalize Non

Joining the U.S Military without being a citizen

As a country founded by immigrants hundreds of years ago, many individuals still flock to the U.S. today seeking political freedom and the opportunity to achieve their goals. America remains a land of opportunities, and because many foreigners from all over the world come to live in the U.S., cultural diversity is cited as one of the country’s strengths.

The same applies to the U.S military today. Since the Revolutionary War, legal permanent residents are eligible to enlist in the military. Roughly 35,000 non-citizens are serving in active-duty military, and about 8,000 join each year.

Non-citizen service members offer several benefits to the military. They are more diverse linguistically and culturally than citizen recruits, which was particularly valuable as the U.S faced the challenges of the Global War on Terrorism.

Also, according to military research, once non-citizens have joined the military, they are far more likely to complete their enlistment obligations successfully than their U.S.-born counterparts. Thirty-six-month attrition rates for non-citizens are between nine and 20 percentage points lower than those for white citizens, the largest demographic group in the military.

Just as non-citizen service members offer benefits to the military, the military service provides opportunities for recruits, particularly in the path to citizenship.

Other restrictions non-citizens encounter until they obtain their U.S citizenship include:

  • Reenlistment: unable to reenlist

Army Warrant Officer Job Overview

Virginia Guard Public Affairs / Flikr / CC BY 2.0

Warrant Officers are technical and tactical leaders who specialize, throughout an entire career, in a specific technical area. The Army Warrant Officer Corps comprises less than three percent of the total Army. Although small in size, the level of responsibility is immense and only the very best will be selected to become Warrant Officers. Benefits include extended career opportunities, worldwide leadership assignments, and increased pay and retirement benefits.

Benefits For Relatives Of Service Members Killed In Action

A spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen service member who died during active duty can apply for immediate citizenship if they have a green card. If they do not have a green card, they can apply for a green card on this basis. They would need to file their Petition for Amerasian, Widow, or Special Immigrant within two years of the service members death and check Box P in Part 2 of the form and write “Public Law 108-136.”

Immediate family members of a foreign national service member who died during active duty in one of the wars listed above can apply for posthumous citizenship for the service member. They would need to submit Form I-644 to USCIS within two years of the death. Once the service member receives posthumous citizenship, their immediate relatives can apply for green cards through their relationship to the service member. Immediate relatives include a spouse, a parent, or an unmarried child who is under 21.

If you are a spouse of a U.S. citizen who is a military service member stationed in a foreign country, and you are a lawful permanent resident, you may be able to count your time living abroad with your spouse toward the residency requirement for becoming a citizen. You can apply for citizenship from the foreign country rather than returning to the U.S.

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United States Military Enlistment Standards

Enlisting in the United States military is very different than applying for any other job. Not everyone will qualify, and there are strict rules which would never apply to civilian employment. Congress and the courts have held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ensures all individuals are treated equally before the law with respect to civilian employment, does not apply to the military profession.

The military doesn’t accept just anyone who wants to join. To enlist, you must be qualified under current federal laws and regulations or have an appropriate waiver. There are age, citizenship, physical, education, height/weight, criminal record, medical, and drug history standards that can exclude you from joining the military. Statistically, this past decade, a majority of recruits fail to meet the height/weight standards of the military as the number one reason why people cannot immediately sign up for service. Here is a look at some of the basic qualifications to enlist in the military.

What Counts As Service In The Us Military

US Military Enlistment Standards

Military members can take steps toward citizenship by serving in either the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, or in a National Guard unit while the unit was federally recognized as a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Peacetime Naturalization: Serve One Year in the Military

During peacetime, foreign nationals who serve at least one year in the U.S. military must get a green card before they qualify for U.S. citizenshipbut they do enjoy one important advantage. Instead of waiting until they’ve held their green card for five years before applying for citizenship, they can apply one year after receiving the green card.

Some other conditions apply. The applicants’ service must have been considered honorable. They must, like everyone applying for citizenship, be at least 18 years or older, of good moral character, be able to show knowledge about American history and government and the English language , and demonstrate an attachment to the U.S. Constitution.

Unlike other applicants, you won’t have to pay the N-400 application fee. But you will have to complete and file USCIS Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service. This will require input and a signature from a U.S. military official.

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Parole In Place Allows Some Family To Get A Temporary Right To Stay And A Green Card Even After Entering Without Inspection

A discretionary opportunity called “Parole in Place” allows certain family members of U.S. military personnel who came to the U.S. illegally, that is, without being inspected by an immigration officer at the border, to apply for the chance to remain in the U.S., in one-year increments.

Eligible applicants include the spouse , child, or parent of an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, an individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, or an individual who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.

PIP applications must be made on USCIS Form I-131, and include evidence of the qualifying family relationship , proof of the family member’s military service , two color passport-style photographs of the applicant, and evidence of any favorable discretionary factors that USCIS should consider.

A PIP grant potentially allows the person to apply for permanent residence in the U.S. without leaving the United States. Under normal circumstances, applicants who entered illegally must leave the U.S. for the last phase of their application, which is attending an interview and getting an immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate in the home country .

Hopefully this Congressional mandate will show up in USCIS’s stated policies and actions soon. In the meantime, be sure to see an attorney if you think you’d benefit from applying for PIP.

How To Join The Us Army If You Are Not A Us Citizen


You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to join the Army, but you do have to live here. You cannot join the military from a foreign country you must become a permanent U.S. resident, AKA a green-card holder. In the past enlisting with a green card has been a fast track to full citizenship, but as of February 2018, the rules are in flux.

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What Happens If An Undocumented Person Enlists

My clients sometimes tell me that theyve heard of undocumented immigrants who were allowed to enlist in a branch of the armed services. This is not allowed by U.S. law, so if it happens, it was a mistake by the recruiter. Once it is determined that the person is undocumented, he will be discharged from the military.

Learn What Special Immigration Rights Are Extended To The Families Of Those Serving In The Us Military

U.S. military veterans without citizenship are being deported

By Ilona Bray, J.D.

If you are a native of another country, and are the close relative of someone who is serving in the U.S. military, you may be interested to know your rights under U.S. immigration laws. By military service we mean active or reserve duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard, or in a National Guard unit while the unit was federally recognized as a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces.

You might also be interested in reading U.S. Citizenship Rights for U.S. Military Personnel and Veterans to find out what rights your serviceperson relative is in line for. If, for example, serving in the military qualifies your family member for immediate or expedited U.S. citizenship, that person may then be able to sponsor you to receive a U.S. green card .

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Rules For Citizenship Following Active Duty In The Us Military

If you served on active duty in the military during one of the World Wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, or Operation Enduring Freedom, you may be able to apply directly for citizenship without first receiving a green card. You do not even need to have any other form of legal status. To qualify for this exception, you will need to have served honorably and have enlisted in the military while you were on U.S. territory. This includes the 50 states as well as the American Samoa, the Panama Canal Zone, Swains Island, and a non-commercial U.S. ship.

There is no minimum period of military service required. In theory, you can apply for citizenship if you served just one day on active duty during any of the wars listed above. However, you cannot realistically serve for just a day and then get your citizenship. You will need to go through basic training before the citizenship process is finalized, and you must honorably complete your term of service. If you receive your citizenship before the end of your term of service, and then you do not honorably complete your service, you will lose your citizenship. There is no fee for the N-400 application, but you will need to file Form N-426.

Can I Become A Us Citizen

If you are serving or have served in the U.S. armed forces and are interested in becoming a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to apply for naturalization under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act . Read more on the Naturalization Through Military Service website. Make an appointment with a Legal Assistance attorney for additional assistance.

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Not All Militaries Accept Americans

Whether for financial reasons, religious affiliation, adventure, sightseeing or a change in residency, here are a few militaries abroad that accept and sometimes actively recruit U.S. citizens to serve. Most will require foreign recruits to know or to learn their language within a certain time period .

After serving for a contractually-mandated time period, soldiers in a foreign military may be eligible to attain permanent residency status in the country they’re serving, if they wish.

Height And Weight Standards

2 Roman army pp

For most of the military, male applicants need to be between 60 inches and 80 inches tall. For female applicants, the range is between 58 inches and 80 inches. The Marines have separate standards: Male applicants should be between 58 and 78 inches tall, and female applicants between 58 and 72 inches tall.

The services have body fat standards, which are only partly based on weight. During an initial screening, applicants are measured on a body fat chart. Those who weigh more than the limits on the chart are measured to ensure they fall within the service’s body-fat standards. Often physically fit and muscular/low body fat recruits can be over the height/weight standards but meet the body fat requirements.

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Can Immigrants Serve In The Us Military

Yes! Each year about 8,000 non-citizens join the U.S. military. A 2011 study found that roughly 4 percent of those enlisted in active-duty military service are non-citizens. Generally, if a person is not a U.S. citizen, he needs to be a green card holder, i.e., a lawful permanent resident, to join the military. As discussed below, however, there are other ways a non-citizen could qualify to serve.

Why Would You Want To Join The Military As A Non

Joining the Military allows you to take part in something bigger than yourself.

In every branch of the Military, you will complete basic physical training and technical training that helps you become mentally and physically stronger.

The different branches of the Military provide technical training that directly relates to almost any civilian career position.

When you join the Military you will be provided with pay, insurance, paid sick-time, retirement, paid vacation and education tuition assistance.

The overall benefits that the Military offers are not available in most civilian positions.

As a non-citizen you will learn valuable tools to help you be successful in life.

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Immigrant Men Are Required To Register

With very few exceptions, all immigrant males between ages 18 and 25 are required by law to register with the Selective Service System within 30 days of arriving in the United States. This includes naturalized citizens, parolees, undocumented immigrants, legal permanent residents, asylum seekers, refugees, and all males with visas more than 30 days expired.

Immediate Right To Apply For Citizenship After One Year’s Military Service

Why You Should Join and Serve in the US Military

If you served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year in total you can apply for citizenship just as soon as you get your green card. It doesn’t matter whether the United States was at war during your service, which is why you’ll sometimes hear this exception called “peacetime naturalization.”

You’ll need to be age 18 or older to apply, and you’ll need to meet the other standard criteria for naturalization. However, you won’t have to pay the usual N-400 application fee. But you will have to complete and file an additional form, called USCIS Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service. This form will require input and a signature from a U.S. military official.

If you have already been discharged from the military, the discharge must have been honorable, and you’ll need to hurry to use this exception: If more than six months pass after your discharge and before you file your application for naturalization, you’ll be back to following the five-year rule that applies to civilian applicants. But see the next section of this article, which could help you if you served during wartime.

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List Of Militaries That Recruit Foreigners

This is a list of militaries that recruit foreign applicants. This includes any individuals who are aliens of the polity whose armed forces they are being recruited to join by professional recruiters. The foreigners need not be legal residents of that nation, but may gain legal residence status by joining the armed forces. More than 90 states have implemented such recruitment policies between 1815 and 2020.

How Avoiding Military Service Can Hurt Your Naturalization

There are lots of penalties for abandoning your post or deserting your squad, not the least of which is the inability to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen. A different statute, INA 314, states that any non-citizen who deserted or left the U.S. to avoid a draft, is no longer eligible to be a U.S. citizen. However, this doesnt apply to anyone who was convicted but never charged with desertion, or anyone merely charged with going AWOL.

There are, however, a few ways around these bars to naturalization. For deserters, if you were never charged with desertion because you were administratively discharged instead of being court-martialed, you may still pursue citizenship as a civilian. And for the alienage bar, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that even people who voluntarily leave the military citing alienage could still apply as civilians as long as they were not aware of the consequences of asking for an alienage discharge from the military.

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Citizenship Requirements For Military Members

Normally, a noncitizen must have five years of legal permanent residency in the U.S. to apply. A noncitizen married to a U.S. citizen for at least three years can apply after three years of residency.

However, special provisions apply for members of the Armed Forces. Under INA Section 328, people who have served in the U.S. military can file for naturalization based on their current or prior U.S. military service.

The applicant must have served honorably or have separated from the service under honorable conditions, have completed one year or more of military service, and be a legal permanent resident at the time of his or her examination by USCIS on the application for naturalization, also referred to as Form N-400.

Filing for naturalization under this provision of the law, Section 328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, excuses the applicant from any specific period of residence or physical presence within the United States, so long as the application is filed while the applicant is still serving in the military or within six months of an honorable discharge.

Joining From The Commonwealth

US Military discharging immigrant recruits it had promised ...

The Army currently offers limited places for Commonwealth applicants. You don’t require UK residency.

It is the responsibility of individual applicants to ensure that they have permission to be in the UK. This must be valid for the entirety of the recruitment and selection process up until the point they are enlisted.All applicants must have a passport that is valid for at least two years from your start date in the Army.You must be applying to join the Regular Army. You cannot join as a Reservist from the Commonwealth.

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