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Expedited naturalization for military service members

Lawful permanent residents in Arizona who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces could be eligible to receive expedited naturalization. An executive order that was signed by President Bush on July 3, 2002, granted all noncitizen military service members the right to immediately file for citizenship if they have served honorably on or after Sept. 11, 2001.

The executive order for noncitizen military members remains in effect with no designated end date. Every year since the authorization was granted, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has naturalized thousands of immigrant armed services members. While most of the military members attend naturalization ceremonies in the U.S., approximately 10 percent of the immigrants are naturalized in foreign countries. Some of the naturalization requirements, such as physical presence in the U.S. and maintaining a U.S. residence, are waived for qualified members of the U.S. Navy.

If a military service member has not yet completed five years of honorable service, there is a probationary period after they are naturalized. If the newly naturalized citizen leaves the military under conditions that are not honorable, the person's citizenship will be revoked. Once an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, they will be eligible to become a military officer.

A permanent resident who is a veteran of the military may want to speak to an immigration attorney about applying for naturalization. A U.S. immigration law attorney might be able to determine whether an immigrant's military service allows them to apply for expedited naturalization. If a former member of the military was denied citizenship when they filed a naturalization petition, an attorney may help to appeal the immigration decision.

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