CITIZENSHIP AND NATURALIZATION
A. GENERALLY. Service members and their spouses and children who are not citizens
receive preferential consideration under the naturalization laws of the United States. There are
several aspects of naturalization that non-citizen service members or citizen service members
who intend to marry or adopt non-citizens must be familiar with.
B. SERVICE MEMBERS. Service members completing three years of continuous active
service under honorable conditions may file their petition for citizenship in any naturalization
court while on active duty or within six months of release from active duty. Service members in
this group must reside where the petition is filed.
C. DEPENDENT SPOUSES. Alien spouses living with a citizen are eligible for citizenship
three years after lawful admission for permanent residence, provided the couple have lived
together as husband and wife for the entire three year period and have been married for over two
years when the spouse applies for Resident Alien status. If the marriage has been for less than
two years at the time of application, then the alien spouse will receive a permanent resident
status on a conditional basis. The conditional status is removed after two years and then the alien
spouse will receive his/her permanent resident status for the usual three years. At the end of the
three-year period, the alien spouse may apply for citizenship. If the citizen service member and
alien spouse separate before the end of the three-year period, the alien spouse must comply with
the five year residency requirement before he or she can be naturalized. In the event the service
member, he or she may apply for immediate naturalization and not wait to accompany the
service member, he or she may apply for immediate naturalization and not wait the usually
require three years.
D. BIRTH OVERSEAS. Most children born overseas of a U.S. citizen parent are U.S. citizens
at birth, If you have a child born overseas, you should establish the child's U.S. citizenship as
soon as possible. A certificate of birth, in English, issued by a military hospital is NOT a proof
of U.S. citizenship. Proof is provided by the FS-240 form, "Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen
of the United States of America." This form is prepared by you and then sent for approval to the
U.S. embassy or consulate. An approved Form FS-240 is recognized by U.S. law as primary
evidence of U.S. citizenship and can be used to obtain a passport, enter school, and can be used
as a substitute for a birth certificate in most instances.
E. MARRIAGE OVERSEAS TO CITIZEN OF ANOTHER COUNTRY. If you are
planning to marry a non-U. S. citizen overseas, find out as soon as possible what documents
your new spouse will need to immigrate to the United States. Do not wait until after you are
married. Processing an immigrant visa for the spouse of a U.S. citizen takes several months.
After your marriage, immediately file a Form 1-30, "Petition to Classify Status of Alien
Relative for Issuance of Immigrant Visa," for your spouse and separate petitions for any
stepchildren younger than age 18 who will be traveling with you to the United States. You
will need your U.S. passport to file any petition. Once petitions have been sent to the U. S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service and approved, they will be sent to the U.S. embassy,
or consulate, nearest your installation and kept on file until your spouse is ready to apply for
an immigrant visa. Your
spouse should apply at least six months before your scheduled rotation date. This needs to be
done in advance in order to obtain the necessary documents and clearances, such as a valid
passport, birth certificate, and a police certificate, from each place he or she has lived for six
months or longer since the 16th birthday. Your spouse (and any stepchildren) will also need
interviews with a U.S. embassy or consulate representative and medical examinations before
visas can be issued. Immigrant visas must be used within four months from the date of issue.
Your spouse and stepchildren cannot get tourist visas to go with you to the United States.
F. FIANCE’ VISAS. If you are a U.S. citizen and wish to marry a non-U. S. citizen in the
United States, you I can file a Form 1129F petition for your intended spouse to come to the
United States for the marriage. A fiance' visa can take months to process. File the petition as
soon as possible. Your fiancé' must apply for the visa within four months of receiving the
approved petition and the marriage must occur within 90 days after arriving in the United States.
G. PROOF. All persons are required to prove their qualifications for citizenship. These
qualifications include proof of good moral character, knowledge of our constitutional form of
government, and proof of that person's disposition toward the good order and welfare of this
country, Alien spouses may not take the oath of citizenship within 60 days before a general
election or 10 days after. They should, therefore, prepare for naturalization as soon as legally
possible to avoid the necessity of traveling outside of the United States on an alien passport.
H. CIRCUMSTANCES BARRING IMMIGRATION. There are circumstances when
foreign spouses and family members are barred from immigration to the United States:
1. Persons convicted of drug offenses. If you plan to marry a foreigner who has been
convicted of a drug offense, be aware that your future spouse could be ineligible to immigrate to
the United States. Under U.S. law, this ineligibility is permanent, and the law does not provide
for any exceptions or waivers. Any conviction of a violation, or conspiracy to violate, any law of
the United States or foreign country relating to a controlled substance may also be a bar.
2. Persons who are HIV positive. As of I Dec 1987, a foreigner who tests positive for the
HIV virus, which indicates exposure to AIDS, is ineligible to immigrate to the United States.
3. Persons convicted of serious crime. A person who has a history of criminal activity or
who has committed a serious crime may not be eligible to immigrate to the United States.
I. LOCAL I.N.S. OFFICES. For specific questions, contact the Legal Assistance Office or one
of the following U.S. Immigration and Naturalization offices
Charleston, SC Atlanta, Georgia
(803) 727-4350 (404) 331-5158