immigrants required to be available for military service?
Since World War I, immigrants to the US have been required to be available
for military service. Nonimmigrants, those people who are in the US for a
temporary period of time, do not have this obligation, but permanent residents,
refugees, parolees and even undocumented immigrants do. Registration is required
upon reaching the age of 18 or before reaching the age of 26 if entering and
taking up residence in the US when older than 18. During times of peace,
however, only citizens and permanent residents may volunteer for military
service. As with all male citizens born after 1959, permanent residents must
register with Selective Services when they turn 18, or at the time that
they obtain their permanent residency if they are under age 26. Those
who obtain permanent residency after age 26 are not required to register. Failure
to properly register could lead to criminal punishment, and can also lead to
denial of future immigration or naturalization benefits.
I leave the US in order to avoid serving in the military?
Leaving the US to avoid military service, or desertion from the military, will
make a person permanently ineligible for citizenship. In addition to this, being
ineligible for citizenship is a basis upon which to deny a person admission to
the US. Immigrants can obtain an exemption from the military service requirement
on the ground that they are not citizens, but doing so will render them
permanently ineligible for citizenship, unless the exemption was obtained under
a treaty, and before seeking the exemption the immigrant had served in the
military of their home country.
immigrants receive immigration benefits as a result of their military service?
Just as failure to abide by the Selective Service laws can result in a denial of
future benefits, performing military service can produce benefits. People who
have served for a total of three years in the US military and who, if no longer
in the military, were honorably discharged, are exempted from standard residency
requirements if the naturalization application is filed while still in the
military or within six months of discharge.
Immigrants who served on active duty during World War I, World War II, the
Korean War, the Vietnam War and other military conflicts are also exempt from
the residency requirements, and may be naturalized regardless of their age.
Permanent residents who died while serving in the US military are eligible for
posthumous naturalization if the application is filed no more than two years
after their death. Immigrants on active duty are not deportable under a special
agreement between USCIS and the Department of Defense.
Moreover, in many of these cases, the immigrant is given the opportunity
to seek naturalization before USCIS initiates deportation proceedings.
Finally, at many times in the past, ceremonies have been held to naturalize
permanent resident military personnel before they were sent overseas.
Can people who lack green cards join the military?
While all immigrants –
legal or undocumented, are obligated to register with Selective Service, it is
actually pretty difficult to join the military if you lack a green card or are
not a citizen or asylees. The military is not supposed to accept undocumented
individuals (though we are aware of a number of cases where undocumented
immigrants made it into the military anyway) and none of the branches sponsor
individuals for non-immigrant or immigrant status (with some minor exceptions).
Whether Congress and the
military will relax its position in the wake of falling recruiting numbers
remains to be seen.