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Citizenship for Military Spouses: A Beginner’s Guide
Citizenship for Military Spouses: A Beginner’s GuideCitizenship for Military Spouses: A Beginner’s Guide

Citizenship for Military Spouses: A Beginner’s Guide

Looking for citizenship for military spouses? You’re not alone! Hundreds of people apply for citizenship through military spouses or partners all the time. The process can seem daunting, but we’re here to walk you through the most important info to know if you’re currently a military spouse applying for citizenship or looking to apply for citizenship any time soon. 

Citizenship for Military Spouses: The Basics 

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) outlines basic eligibility for expedited naturalization and citizenship for military members and spouses under Section 319(b).

To qualify for this speedy naturalization process, you have to meet these basic military spouse citizenship requirements:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be able to prove that your spouse is a U.S. citizen who is or will be in service for a minimum of one year.
  • You must be present in the U.S. as a Lawful Permanent Resident (a.k.a. you must have a Green Card) when you apply. 
  • You must have held a Green Card for three years. 
  • You must be present on U.S. soil when naturalization is set to take place. 
  • You must proclaim in good faith that you intend to stay in the U.S. with your citizen spouse. 
  • You must be able to read, speak, and write English with a basic level of proficiency.
  • You must have at least basic knowledge of U.S. history and civics. 
  • You must have been and continue to be an individual of good moral character devoted to the principles of the U.S. Constitution.

When you’re looking to apply for citizenship for military spouses, being a Green Card holder is imperative. 

If you are not yet a Green Card holder and wish to obtain citizenship for military spouses, you can fill out the following forms with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

These will allow you to establish lawful permanent residence and legitimize your relationship to an eligible service member.

Related read: How To Write a Resume for the First Time as a Milspouse 

When Can a Military Spouse Apply for Citizenship?

When Can a Military Spouse Apply for Citizenship?

When applying for U.S. citizenship for military spouses, it’s always better to get your application in as soon as possible. The end of 2021 and beginning of 2022 have seen a pretty significant increase in applications already, meaning that the sooner you apply, the better.

You can file for naturalization 90 calendar days (not just business days) BEFORE you meet the requirements for becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). 

This means that you can file for naturalization and citizenship once you have been an LPR for two years and 275 days

However, there are also separate rules for expedited filing. If you file early, you have to meet the following requirements for citizenship for military spouses:

  • You must have been married to your spouse for at least three years at the time of filing.
  • Your spouse must have been a U.S. citizen for a minimum of three years at the time of filing.
  • You must still meet all aforementioned citizenship requirements. 

Unique Cases for Expedited Processing

Unique Cases for Expedited Processing

The USCIS takes into account unique circumstances when processing requests for expedited naturalization. Though they can’t promise that all expedited requests get approved, they do consider all requests given their specific context. 

One example is in the last-minute deployment of a service member. Sometimes, a military spouse gets orders for deployment and needs to update their family plan ASAP. In this case, some instances of naturalization have been expedited so that an Alien family member can be included in the service member’s family plan.

Instances like these are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. 

The Citizenship Process

Military spouses applying for citizenship don’t get any special treatment when it comes to the acceptance of a citizenship application. You will still have to pass through the same stages as any other person applying for citizenship.

  1. Submit your Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization) and pay the associated fees (up to $640). 
  2. Where applicable, go to your biometrics appointment. 
  3. Attend your interview. This interview consists of a USCIS official talking to you about your background and application materials. 
  4. Take the naturalization test. After your interview, you will need to pass an English and civics test. The English test consists of a speaking portion, reading portion, and writing portion. The civics test is an oral test where you will answer 20 questions asked to you by your USCIS interviewer out loud. You must get 12/20 to pass.  
  5. Receive your decision. USCIS will mail you a notice with “granted,” “continued,” or “denied.” Granted means you are officially eligible for naturalization. Continued means you may need to provide more documentation or re-take one of your tests. Denied means you are not eligible for naturalization. 
  6. Take an oath of allegiance to the U.S. At this time, you will receive your Certification of Naturalization and turn in your Green Card. 

Acquiring citizenship for military spouses may seem daunting, but it’s incredibly worthwhile. Thanks for all you do as a military spouse, and we can’t wait to welcome you to your next posting as a naturalized citizen! 

Celebrate your citizenship by taking a cross-country road trip! Read more here: How To Plan Your Next Great American National Park Road Trip 

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