As we celebrate Veterans Day, an occasion to express gratitude and honor to those who have served in the armed forces, we at Hope Immigration want to share our appreciation for the brave individuals who have dedicated themselves to protecting our nation.
In the spirit of recognition and support, we are highlighting the immigration options available for military members and their families. Military members, including active duty and veterans, may have specific immigration options and benefits available to them. Below are some key immigration options for these heroes.
Naturalization Through Military Service
Military service members and veterans may be eligible for naturalization based on their service to our country. The main requirements include that you are at least 18 years of age and serve at least one year in the military, honorably, at any time. The usual residence and physical presence requirements are often waived or reduced for military personnel.
In addition to creating eligibility for naturalization, USCIS may expedite the process for families of active duty service members. This is utilized when the service member receives orders to go abroad, but their spouse or children may not have U.S. citizenship. The residency requirements (typically three or five years) are waived and family members may become U.S. citizens quickly.
At Hope Immigration, we had a client who was a lawful permanent resident for only two months before becoming a citizen — she was the spouse of a soldier about to go abroad and we were able to get her naturalized before their move.
Parole in Place (PIP)
Parole in Place is a discretionary program that allows certain family members of active-duty or veteran military personnel to be paroled into the United States. Many times, a family might not have a lawful entry to the United States, the one thing keeping them from getting their green card. Parole in Place solves this by creating a legal admission to the United States (so no one has to leave), allowing the family member to apply for lawful permanent status. This allows families to stay together or avoids a security risk when a family member of a service member goes abroad to a dangerous country.
The National Immigration Forum goes into further detail here.
Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for Afghan and Iraqi Translators/Interpreters
This program was created for Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have worked as translators or interpreters for the U.S. military and meet specific criteria for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV). This program is designed to provide a pathway to lawful permanent residency (green card) and allows up to fifty persons a year to be granted this legal status.
The United States Department of State goes into further detail here.
In the tragic event of a military member’s death during active-duty service, they may be eligible for posthumous citizenship. This typically occurs for members who served honorably during designated periods of hostilities and their death is a result of events that occurred because of their service. With this process, deceased service members are considered US citizens as of the date of their death. Whether a person is eligible for posthumous citizenship is determined by the military branch under which they served. If determined to be a citizen, spouses and children qualify for immigration benefits.
Hope Immigration Services
It is wonderful that military service members are provided with these immigration pathways. However, it is important to note that immigration policies and eligibility criteria can change, so individuals in the military or veterans seeking immigration benefits should consult with an experienced legal professional, either through an attorney or through specific military services, to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
Hope Immigration specializes in humanitarian- and family-based immigration assistance. If you are an active duty service member or veteran seeking immigration benefits, we are happy to assist you with naturalization, parole in place, and even adjustment of status. To discuss your options, you can schedule a consultation with us here.
For further general information, please see this USCIS page.