U.S. Immigration Support for the Military Community
Breakdown of common questions and helpful resources for service members and their families
Navigating the U.S. immigration system on your own can be difficult. If you’re a current or former member of the military, you may be wondering about your rights and what unique circumstances you may face during the immigration process. Whether you’re a non-citizen service member or U.S. citizen sponsoring a loved one, Boundless is here to help.
In this guide, we’ll cover common questions and helpful resources for service members during each stage of the immigration journey.
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Understanding Your Immigration Options
Marriage Green Cards for Military Spouses
Service members who are stationed abroad or deployed may end up falling in love and wanting to marry someone from another country. If you and your loved one are already married, or planning on getting married soon, applying for a marriage green card may be the next step in starting your lives together in the U.S.. Boundless put together a detailed guide on marriage green cards for military spouses, where you can find more information on cost, wait times, and requirements for the process.
Military Sponsors and K-1 Fiancé(e) Visas
What if you and your partner aren’t married just yet? The K-1 fiancé(e) visa may be the right immigration path for you. The K-1 visa allows the engaged partner of a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. with the intention of marrying within 90 days. The couple can then apply for a marriage green card so the foreign partner can live and work in the U.S. permanently. You can find more information on the K-1 visa and what to expect should you go this route in our K-1 guide.
Which visa is right for you?
Not sure if you and your partner qualify for a K-1 visa or marriage green card? Start by checking your eligibility.
Expediting Your Application
The government processing times for both marriage green cards and K-1 visas have increased significantly over the last few years due to COVID-related delays and a growing visa backlog. If you are an active-duty service member, it may be possible to request an expedition of your marriage green card or K-1 visa application. All expedition requests are evaluated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on a case-by-case basis and military members should contact the Military Help Line at 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645) or email@example.com to learn more. USCIS also provides detailed guidance on how to file an expedite request for various applications here.
Financial Requirements for Military Sponsors
An important aspect of sponsoring a spouse or fiancé(e) for an immigrant visa is proving that you meet the minimum annual income requirements for your household size. Typically, sponsors are required to prove that they earn at least 125% of USCIS’ poverty guidelines. However, the annual income requirement for military sponsors is lower; military sponsors must earn only 100% of the poverty guidelines for their household size. To calculate the number of people in your household and what income level you will need to meet, check out Boundless’ guide.
If you have additional questions on how to prove your income level as a service member, Boundless can help. Create your free account to start working with our team of immigration specialists.
Military Service and U.S. Citizenship
For non-citizen service members, obtaining U.S. citizenship is an important milestone in one’s immigration journey. The naturalization process is unique for members of the U.S. Armed Forces — the eligibility requirements, cost, timeline, and government forms all vary from typical citizenship applications. Boundless put together a personalized guide for obtaining U.S. citizenship as a military service member so you can read up on the requirements and get an idea of what to expect during the process.
Boundless and our partner company RapidVisa can help you complete your entire naturalization application, including all forms and supporting documents, from the moment your application is filed until you obtain U.S. citizenship. Learn more about what we do to help.
Going Through the Immigration Process
Documenting Military Service on Your Visa Application
If you’re applying for a marriage green card or other type of immigrant visa from outside of the U.S., you may be required to document your previous or current military service on your application. As part of the visa process, the U.S. government asks for certified copies of military service records that have been issued from an official source. The process for obtaining military records that satisfy government requirements may vary depending on when and where you served. Boundless put together a guide on how to obtain your military records and properly include them in your visa application.
If you choose to work with Boundless, our team of immigration specialists takes the guesswork out of the process and provides you with a personalized document checklist. Our team also reviews each document to make sure they meet government requirements and standards. Learn more, or get started now.
Applying for U.S. citizenship as a member of the military is free, and service members and veterans may be exempt from paying government filing fees for other types of visa applications as well. In instances of financial hardship, military applicants can file Form I-912 (known as a “Request for Fee Waiver”) for certain immigration services. Detailed form instructions and additional information on financial assistance can be found on USCIS’ site.
USCIS Military Helpline
USCIS established a toll-free helpline that is exclusive to current members of the military and their family members, as well as veterans. For any immigration-related questions, military members can call 877-CIS-4MIL (877-247-4645), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Central Time (CT). You can also reach the helpline via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Life in the U.S.
Resources for Non-citizen Service Members
In partnership with Veteran Affairs, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently launched a new online portal for non-citizen service members and their families. ImmVets is a comprehensive resource center for all active immigrant service members and veterans who may need help navigating immigration questions or accessing Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits.
General veteran assistance can be found on the official U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) site. The VA site allows all U.S. veterans to access their military records, health care, educational information, disability claims, and more. Veterans can create an account directly on the VA site to better manage their benefits and search for additional resources and support. Military OneSource is another online tool to help service members navigate all aspects of military life. Military members can search for housing assistance, as well as financial and legal services tailored to their specific needs.
Support for Military Spouses and Families
Military spouses and families have access to unique benefits and may require personalized support during different stages of military life. Here are some resources for military spouses and families that may be helpful:
|Military Family Benefits||Breakdown of common military family benefits, including health care, childcare, housing allowances, etc.|
|Life as a Military Spouse||Military spouse benefits explanation, employment and education assistance|
|USO Military Spouse Center||Military nonprofit with family content and resources|
Military Immigration FAQs
Parole in Place (PIP) is a special immigration benefit for family members of U.S. military personnel (active or veterans). It allows these individuals, who are in the U.S. unlawfully, to stay and apply for a green card in the U.S., despite their illegal entry. Learn more about PIP on USCIS.gov.
Members of the U.S. military serving overseas may count their time abroad on military duty as time spent in the U.S. for residency and physical presence requirements.
In many cases, yes. For example, dependents of an A-2 visa holder (foreign military personnel stationed in the U.S.) can often get A-2 visas as well.