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Focus on Service

Becoming an American Citizen and U.S. Navy Sailor

Gaining Naturalization Through Military Service

While division 158 marches their way back into their training environment, one recruit's focus is different from the others in ranks with him. This older recruit, marching to the beat of his own drum of sorts, is on the path to gain his US citizenship while on active duty in the United States Navy.

Seaman Recruit Marc Kasia's wisdom and patience are more defined than the average recruit training in Great Lakes, Illinois. His age, at 35, is the Navy's cut off for qualifying for active duty service, and although his current home of record might be within the state of Iowa, he was born in Nairobi, Kenya on the coast of Eastern Africa.

Surmounting the odds of moving to America as a lawful permanent resident, or green-card holder, is tackled by hundreds of thousands of prospective immigrants yearly.

In Kasia's instance, gaining naturalization through military service, or citizenship, from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), was literally just a few checks in the required blocks.

Kasia heard of opportunities for expedited citizenship from a friend before he joined the military.

"I did not know what qualifications one needed to have to gain full citizenship," said Kasia. "I was a permanent resident here in the United States, but I knew I would have to come and do physical qualifications, but I didn't know what else was going to be expected of me if I wanted to be a citizen. It was a big advantage to be able to qualify for that now."

Seaman Mark Kasia from Nairobi, Kenya is entering the U.S. Navy while becoming an American Citizen


Prior to joining the Navy, non-citizens must enter the United States on a permanent residence visa or have an alien registration green card, have established a bona fide residence , and established a home of record in the United States.

Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act authorize USCIS to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces. In 2009 USCIS gave the Navy's enlistees at boot camp the opportunity to leave basic training as U.S. Citizens, as long as the recruits meet the following requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States and demonstrate:

- Good moral character
- Knowledge of the English language
- Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics)
- Attachment to the United States by taking an oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitutio
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For Kasia, graduating from basic training was more than just the start of his life as a U.S. Sailor; it was also the start of his life as a U.S. Citizen.
Instructions on how to become an American Citizen through military service

Contact the designated installation point of contact for help preparing and filing a naturalization application packet. That packet includes Application for Naturalization, USCIS Form N-400 with no fee for military members. A certified US CIS form N-426. Separated members may send uncertified for with their DD Form 214. Send complete package to USCIS Nebraska service center for expedited processing. Customer service is available for members and families Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm central time. Military families may comtact USCIS toll free at 1-877-CIS-4mil or 1-877-247-4645 and email at militaryinfo.nsc@dh2.gov.