Achieving U.S. Citizenship Through The Military
August 22, 2002
Thousands of people from foreign countries who are not citizens of the U.S. are serving in this nation's armed forces -- and are using their service as a stepping-stone to citizenship.
- Some 31,044 non-citizens serve in branches of the armed forces -- 2 percent of the 1.4 million active force.
- The Navy is home to 15,708 of them -- with significantly lesser numbers spread out in the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force.
- A Pentagon "information paper" states that each foreign applicant to the services "must first undergo a series of background checks, and the positions in which they can serve are limited."
- Each must be a permanent legal U.S. resident, holding a green card from the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The Pentagon plays no role in supporting a person's citizenship and calls the process "an individual responsibility." But military service does speed up the process. Permanent residents must wait five years for a chance at citizenship. But those serving in the military must, in most cases, only wait three years.
Source: Robert Scarborough, "Foreigners Find Military Fast Track to Citizenship," Washington Times, August 22, 2002.
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