In February 2022, VA requested non-citizen service member data from the Department of Defense. VA received the data in June 2022, and it will begin targeted naturalization outreach to Veterans this month under VA’s Solid Start Program.

Under the Solid Start Program, VA will attempt to contact Veterans at timed intervals: around 90, 180 and 365 days after separating from service. VA contacts these Veterans via phone and email, and it will use these means to provide naturalization information to the targeted Veterans. Providing targeted outreach to transitioning service members will ensure they have all the information they need to naturalize to become a U.S. Citizen.

Benefits of naturalization include protection from deportation, automatic citizenship for children under 18; the ability to vote in all federal, state and local elections; ability to run for public office, and eligibility to obtain a US passport and travel freely. It also opens doors for Veterans to obtain federal jobs, federal grants, scholarships, certain VA benefits and several tax advantages.

For Veterans who are seeking information about naturalization, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers help exclusively for current members of the military and their families, as well as Veterans. Veterans can call the USCIS toll-free military naturalization help line at 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645, TTY: 800-877-8339) or send an email to militaryinfo@uscis.dhs.gov.

Naturalization help is available

Help is available for Veterans needing assistance filing their naturalization application. One organization that helps is the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Military Assistance Program, at (202) 507-7600. They can also contact the Veterans Naturalization Assistance Program at the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program by phone at (202) 733-3337 or by email at vnap@vetsprobono.org.

Please note that VA assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of non-governmental legal service providers and does not endorse or recommend any of these organizations.

While taking action to prevent future deportation on the front-end during transition by providing targeted outreach, VA also serves as a member of the interagency Naturalization Working Group (NWG) under Executive Order 14012 – “Restoring Faith in Our Legal Immigration Systems and Strengthening Integration and Inclusion Efforts for New Americans.”

We continue to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense to support our Immigrant Veterans, and those that are currently deported through the Immigrant Military Members and Veterans Initiative (IMMVI).

By Saif Khan is an OIF Veteran and serves as the attorney advisor to VA’s General Counsel

OIF Veteran and serves as the attorney advisor to VA’s General Counsel

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Published on Jul. 19, 2022

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