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Fact Sheet: Honoring Members of American's Armed Services

July 04, 2002

Today's Presidential Action

- During a Fourth of July celebration in Ripley, West Virginia, President Bush announced that he has signed an Executive Order granting expedited citizenship consideration to non-citizen members of the United States military serving in active duty during the war on terrorism.

- The Executive Order, authorized under Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, makes up to 15,000 non-citizen men and women serving in United States military since September 11th immediately eligible to apply to become United States citizens.

Background on Today's Presidential Action

- Service in the United States military, particularly in times of conflict, is the ultimate act of patriotism. Our immigration laws traditionally have allowed for expedited citizenship consideration for non-citizen members of the United States military, even in peacetime. For example, Section 328 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows non-citizen members of the military in peacetime to become citizens after three years of service, instead of the usual five-year wait required of non-military applicants.

- In addition, Section 329 of INA allows non-citizens to receive immediate naturalization through their active duty service in the Armed Forces during periods of military hostilities, if the President designates by Executive Order that the armed services are or were engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force.

- The order signed by President Bush designates that our military has been engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force -- namely terrorists around the globe -- since September 11, 2001. Today's action potentially affects up to 15,000 members of the armed forces who have served in the military for fewer than three years, since many of these individuals were ineligible to become citizens until the enactment of Executive Order.

- Today's action by President Bush is consistent with actions taken by previous Administrations. Under Section 329 of the INA, 143,000 non-citizen military participants in World Wars I and II, and 31,000 members of the U.S. military who fought during the Korean War, became naturalized American citizens. President Carter signed a similar Executive Order following Vietnam, and President Clinton signed one after the Persian Gulf War. These orders collectively led to more than 100,000 additional members of the U.S. military becoming American citizens.

In addition to rewarding these brave men and women for fighting the war on terror, citizenship will encourage them to remain in the military. Naturalization will allow them to advance their careers into positions requiring citizenship, including service as commissioned or warrant officers and in special warfare programs such as the Navy SEALs.

For more information on the President's initiatives, please visit

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Honoring Members of American's Armed Services Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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