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Posthumous Citizenship through Death While on Active Military Service

By November 21, 2022Immigration
A US flag and military tags

Pursuant to Section 329A of the Immigration Act, certain noncitizens of the United States may be eligible for U.S. citizenship after their passing away if they meet certain eligibility criteria.

  • The noncitizen served honorably in an active-duty status in the military, air, or naval forces of the United States during any period of conflict.
  • The noncitizen died as a result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by military service

Designated Periods of hostilities include:

  • World War I with dates:                       April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918
  • World War II with dates:                    September 1, 1939, to December 31, 1946
  • Korean Conflict with dates:                June 25, 1950, to July 1, 1955
  • Vietnam Hostilities with dates:          February 28, 1961, to October 15, 1978
  • Persian Gulf Conflict with dates:       August 2, 1990, to April 11, 1991
  • War on Terrorism with dates:           September 11, 2001 to Present

Qualifying enlistment:

  • The servicemember must have enlisted, reenlisted or been inducted in the United States, the Canal Zone, American Samoa or Swains Island.
  • The servicemember must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence at any time or
  • The servicemember enlisted or reenlisted in the U.S. Army pursuant to the provisions of the Lodge Act. In that case, the service member shall be considered to have been lawfully admitted to the United States as a permanent resident, provided he:
    • Entered the United States, its outlying possessions, or the Canal Zone at some time during the period of army service, pursuant to military orders and
    • Was honorably discharged following completion of at least 5 full years of active duty service, even if the active duty service may not have occurred during a qualifying period of hostilities.

Servicemember who were dishonorably discharged or discharged under conditions other than honorable will not qualify.

The department under which the servicemember must determine whether:

  • The servicemember served honorably in an active-duty status.
  • The separation from service was under honorable conditions and
  • The servicemember died as a result of injury or disease incurred in, or aggravated by active duty service during a qualifying period of military hostilities.

Requests for Posthumous Citizenship may be filed on behalf of the deceased service member when a next-of-kin is identified and the next-of-kin requests that the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary’s designee in the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, “USCIS” to file an Application for Posthumous Citizenship, Form N-644 within two years of the service member’s death. The application can also be submitted by the service member’s next-of-kin.

The applicant should submit with the N-644 one of the following documents:

  • Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, DD Form 214.
  • Report of Casualty/Military Death Certificate, DD Form 1300 (or other military or State issued death certificate).
  • Any other military or state issued certificate of the decedent’s death.

A positive adjudication will result in USCIS issuing a Certificate of Citizenship, Form N-645 in the name of the deceased service member establishing posthumously that he was a U.S. citizen on the date of his death.

There may be several personal reasons to seek posthumous citizenship. One likely reason is for the Spouse, Child, or Parent of a deceased U.S. citizen service member obtain citizenship where the service member granted posthumous citizenship now opens the door for those qualifying family members to become citizens on an expedited basis.

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