August 02, 2022

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is publishing an update to its Policy Manual to clarify that a current or former service member who received an uncharacterized discharge may be eligible for naturalization under sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).

The New Way to Get Naturalization

Are you a service member who received an uncharacterized discharge? You may be eligible for naturalization. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has good news for you!

Before August 2nd, 2022, for a U.S service members’ separation to be considered “Under honorable conditions” in INA 328 and INA 329, it had to be characterized as Honorable or Generable-Under Honorable conditions. It is no longer the case.

The new guidance changes the previous interpretation which henceforth includes uncharacterized discharges as well as the two other discharges conditions meaning Honorable and General-Under Honorable.

Recently the Department of Defense had instructed to reinterpret the whole system in order to include uncharacterized discharges. A district court’s decision had also been in the same direction. The effectiveness of the new guidance will begin at the publication of the updated document.

All applicants can benefit from it, being pending or future applicants. If any applicant’s files have previously been rejected previously, they can reapply without paying any application fees.

Period of services

To qualify for naturalization a service member who had been discharged under honorable conditions must have served in periods defined as periods of hostilities: Naturalization seems then to be a reward to those immigrants who risked their lives for the sake of the nation’s security even though they were not counted as citizens.

Executive Order 13269 issued by president Georges W. Bush on July 3rd 2002 had designated periods of hostilities. This gives room to the eligibility of noncitizens who had served in one of those periods for naturalization under INA 329 since September 11th, 2001. But he issued a new order to terminate the designated periods of hostilities.

Currently, periods of hostilities include World War I (April 6, 1917- November 11, 1918), World War II (September 1, 1939- December 31, 1946), the Korean War (June 25, 1950 – July 1, 1955), the Vietnam Hostilities (February 28, 1961- October 15, 1978), the Persian Gulf Conflict (August 2, 1990- April 11, 1991), and the War on Terrorism (September 11, 2001- Present).

If anyone had served in more than one period, they will need to show that at least one period fits into the required conditions to be eligible for INA 329. To qualify, even if they have received an uncharacterized discharge, the candidate must have served honorably either as a member of the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or provide evidence that they had been part of the active duty in the U.S. army.

This new interpretation of the policy manual  to encompass immigrants service members who had had uncharacterized discharge  to be eligible for naturalization  if they had served during a period of hostility will definitely instill joy and happiness in the heart of many aspiring candidates.

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