If you’re applying for a family-based green card or a marriage-based green card from abroad, and you’ve ever served in the military of any country, the U.S. government will ask for records of your service. These records will verify your answers to the “Employment History” section of your online green card application (Form DS-260).
The process for obtaining your military records — if you don’t already have them — depends on where you serve or previously did. In this guide, we’ll show you where and how to properly request a certified copy.
Who must submit their military records?
Only the family member or spouse applying for a green card from abroad must provide military records. (There is no such requirement for spouses applying for a green card from within the United States.) You must send your records to the National Visa Center (NVC) after submitting your Online Green Card Application (DS-260). You must also bring your military records to your green card interview.
IMPORTANT: The NVC requires adult male applicants from certain countries to submit military records even if they have never served. (See “Where to Get Military Records” section below for instructions on checking if a particular country has such a requirement.)
What should my military records show?
Your military documents must contain the following information:
- Country or region where you serve or previously served
- Branch of service
- Rank or position
- Military specialty
- Dates of service
- Your conduct while serving
Additionally, if you were convicted of any crime while serving, the records must reflect the conviction. If you were discharged, retired, or resigned from military service, you must also submit your discharge certificate.
What if my military records are not written in English?
Military records that are written in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
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If you’ve served in the U.S. armed forces, you can request your military service records by following the instructions from the National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR). Veterans can request their documents online — through eVetRecs — or by completing Form SF-180 and sending it via fax or mail. To locate your records, you will need to provide information about your service, such as your name, U.S. Social Security Number, and dates of service.
Those who are in active military duty, are retired, or have been discharged generally should check the U.S. National Archives’ “Locations of Service Records” list. The locations of the records are categorized by branch of service.
If you’ve served in a country other than the United States, you can request a certified copy of your military records from the appropriate government agency in that country. The U.S. Department of State’s website lists this information, including the name of the issuing authority, as well as the current fee and procedures for obtaining an official copy. (On the upper left-hand side of the webpage, you will need to select the first letter of your country’s name, select your country, and click on the “Military Records” tab to view the details you need.)
What if I can’t find my military records or access them from an official source?
If, for any reason, you cannot obtain your military service records, you must provide a notarized personal affidavit (written statement) in which you explain to the U.S. government why those documents are not available. The only time you are not required to submit military records is if a particular country’s guidelines for such documents specifically indicates that they are “unavailable.”
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