During the naturalization process, an immigrant to the U.S. can gain full U.S. citizenship. While this is a dream for many immigrants currently living in Illinois and across the country, the naturalization process can be a lengthy process. Deciding to serve in the U.S. military may reduce the time you spend waiting to become a naturalized citizen.
Military service reduces residency requirements
For most immigrant residents, the naturalization process requires you to live in the country for at least five years continuously. If you are married to a citizen of the U.S., the regulations require only three years of continuous residency. However, serving in the military greatly reduces these residency requirements. You need only one year of service time in the armed forces in order to qualify for naturalization. The period of service does not have to be continuous.
All branches of military qualify you for naturalization
Any honorable service spent in a branch of the U.S. armed forces will qualify you for military naturalization. This includes all of the following:
- Marine Corps
- Air Force
- Space Force
- Coast Guard
- National Guard
Dishonorable discharges negatively affect your citizenship
The naturalization process through the military requires you to serve honorably. If you receive a dishonorable discharge, you can be denied naturalization. If you’ve already been granted naturalized citizenship, have served less than five years in the armed forces, and receive a dishonorable discharge afterward, you can have your citizenship revoked. “Uncharacterized discharges” will count as honorable discharges, and your naturalization will not be in jeopardy.
Military service demonstrates a commitment to the U.S.
The U.S. federal government recognizes that immigrants who are willing to serve in the armed forces demonstrate their allegiance to the country. To repay this loyalty, the U.S. strives to make the naturalization process easier for them.