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Naturalization through military service

Current and former military service members in Florida may be eligible for U.S. citizenship based on their service. Requirements vary depending on whether the service was during peacetime or during a period of hostility. Under both types, the military member will be required to have a good understanding of U.S. civics as well as the ability to speak, read and write in English.

When a person's military service is during peacetime, he or she must serve at least one year. They must also be at least 18 years of age and if they have been discharged, the separation from service must have been honorable. For peacetime service qualification, people must be permanent lawful residents of the United States at the time of the application. Unless they submit their applications while they are still serving or within six months of their separation, they must have resided in the country continuously for at least 30 months during the five years immediately preceding the application.

Service of even one day during a period of hostility can lead to naturalization eligibility. The service must have been honorable, and the person must have either served on active duty or as a Selected Member of the Ready Reserve. The service member must have been present in the country or in a U.S. territory at the time of their enlistment. Alternatively, they must have become a lawful permanent resident at any time after their enlistment.

Becoming a citizen brings certain rights that are not available to noncitizens. Once a person is naturalized, he or she will have voting rights and the ability to run for elected office. He or she will also not be subject to deportation proceedings following naturalization.

Source: US CIS, "Citizenship for Military Members", December 10, 2014

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