Marine Corps citizenship program cuts naturalization process time in half
Close to 1,200 Marines have taken part since 2012
MCRD SAN DIEGO – The path to citizenship is now shorter for men and women who want to serve our country. Young adults who volunteer to serve in the Marine Corps can earn their citizenship before they graduate from boot camp.
United States Marines must be legal, permanent residents and have a valid green card, but they do not have to be citizens. However; a Marine Corps program allows new service members to become naturalized in just 13 weeks.
Applicants must first and foremost want to be a Marine and meet all of the requirements to join the Corps. When the recruits arrive at MCRD, they meet with a Marine Corps recruiter who will process their application and push it through an expedited naturalization process. The standard process can take anywhere from six to 12 months or longer. The recruit is also interviewed by Immigration Services and must pass a civics test. 13 weeks later, on the day before they graduate from boot camp, the new Marine is sworn in as an American citizen. “It’s very rewarding. We see them in the beginning when they get here. When they come into the office they are excited. This is something they want to do. They want to serve their country,” explains GySgt Isaac Fandino.
The recruit must graduate boot camp in order to be eligible for expedited citizenship. Citizenship earned through the expedited program can be revoked if the Marine is dishonorably discharged before serving at least five years.
1,180 Marines have taken advantage of expedited naturalization program since is started in 2012. It is a pilot program, but there is no planned end date.