U.S. Law Center

Am I eligible to get a green card through military service?

If your ambition is to move to California and become a permanent resident of the United States, one of your first steps may be identifying what paths are open to you for meeting the legal requirements. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, some foreign nationals have become qualified to apply for a green card by serving in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. But, choosing this method requires a strong commitment to this country and a willingness to invest years of time into meeting your goal.

Legal enlistment in the U.S. Armed Forces is only possible if the United States has an agreement with your home country that permits it. If you have already served for at least 12 years, you may qualify if you left the service honorably and under an agreement or treaty effective on Oct. 1, 1991. If you have not been in the military for 12 years yet, but you have served at least six years and are currently signed up to complete active duty service for a total of 12 years, you may also be eligible.

You must not have any reason to prevent your admissibility into the country, in order to take advantage of this course of action. Also, this immigrant status requires a recommendation from the branch of the military you were or are enlisted in. When you file your special immigrant form and the supporting documentation, you may also file the application for permanent residence. There may be other conditions that affect your ability to apply for a green card through this process. So, this information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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