Six immigrant soldiers have been honored by the National Guard in Arkansas by receiving US citizenship on October 9th this year, North Little Rock CBS affiliate KTHV says. Individuals do not have to be US citizens in order to serve in the military but the brand new title means that foreign nationals can feel more connected to the country that they are serving.
“These men and women epitomize what America is all about – freedom, democracy and excellence” says Major General William Woffard. The six brand new citizens come from Jamaica, Mexico, Panama and South Korea. Following the ultimate decision to join the military, becoming a citizen of the United States means that they will be afforded other opportunities such as the likes of better schools and expedited naturalization and immigration clearance for their non-citizen spouses.
A new US immigration law known as Naturalization Through Military Service came into being two years ago in 2010, allowing military personnel in the air force, army, coast guard, marine force, navy and some sectors of the national guard to be able to apply for citizenship on the very first day of basic training, the USCIS website states.
The standard naturalization process usually takes hundreds of dollars and several years, but USCIS speeds up the process and waives fees for qualified members in the military. In order to qualify, non-citizen enlistees need to show knowledge of the English language, the US government, history and good moral character, as well as being willing to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States Constitution.