Immigration and Citizenship Overview

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Immigration and Citizenship Overview

NOTE: Thanks to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for authoring the initial version of this information.


Citizenship for Military Members & Dependents

Members and veterans of the U.S. armed forces, and their dependents, may be eligible for citizenship under special legal provisions. Special procedures apply in all of the following situations. More information about each one is provided in a separate section.

  • Members of the U.S. armed forces and certain veterans may be eligible for citizenship by qualifying for naturalization through military service under Section 328 or 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA, or the "Act"]. Read more here
  • Additionally, the INA provides for posthumous naturalization under section 329A of the Act. Read more here
  • 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 Act. Read more here
  • Section 319(e) of the Act allows certain eligible spouses of service members to naturalize abroad without traveling to the United States for any part of the naturalization process and also treats qualifying residence abroad as residence and physical presence in the U.S. for purposes of naturalization. Read more here
  • Section 322 of the Act allows certain eligible children of service members to become naturalized U.S. citizens without having to travel to the United States for any part of the naturalization process. Read more here

Family Based Survivor Benefits (for Relatives)

Spouses, parents and children (who are unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. armed forces members who die as a result of combat while in an active duty status may be eligible for certain “survivor” immigration benefits, including citizenship. More for children
More for spouses

Military Help Line

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has established a toll-free “Military Help Line” exclusively for members of the military and their families. USCIS customer service specialists are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (CST), excluding federal holidays.
By phone: 1-877-CIS-4MIL (1-877-247-4645)
By email (for use after hours): militaryinfo.nsc@dhs.gov
 
Callers will receive assistance with immigration-related information, such as:

  • 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.

Members of the U.S. armed forces and their families stationed in the United States or overseas may access the help line using the toll-free number through their base telephone operator or using the Defense Switched Network (DSN). Ask your chain of command about using a DSN line to contact USCIS.

While the Military Help Line can provide you with some preliminary information and help checking on case status, please note that eligibility for immigration benefits can be extremely complicated. It is always best to also consult with an experienced immigration advocate before filing any application for an immigration benefit.

Legal Assistance

Immigration proceedings are very complex, and the help of a qualified attorney or representative may be very important to the process. This is a very specialized area of law and mistakes can be very serious, including application denials or initiation of proceedings to deport a person from the U.S. It is always best to consult with an experienced immigration advocate before filing any application for immigration benefit.

The United States Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review maintains a list of free pro bono legal resources with immigration expertise.

Immigration attorneys or agencies who provide legal aid for free or low fee

A list of attorneys who have been suspended or expelled from the practice of immigration law is maintained by the United States Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Don't be a victim of immigration fraud 

Go here for details. 

 June 2010