Welcome to Immigration-Wise, a blog devoted to informative and insightful information and analysis related to immigration and nationality law. Today marks the launch of Immigration-Wise, with its first blog post celebrating mothers, and the men and women of the Armed Forces. Future blog posts will also coincide with national holidays or other important events.

I hope you will find this blog informative and even inspiring.

Take care,

Celebrating Two Special Holidays: Mother’s Day and Memorial Day

We celebrate two very important holidays in the month of May: Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Mother’s Day is celebrated in the United States on the second Sunday in May. It celebrates mothers and recognizes the sacrifice of those whose sons and daughters die in war. Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday of May, and honors the men and women who died while serving in the Armed Forces.

Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day was founded by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia in 1905 when her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis died. Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother, and all mothers, who she believed did the most in raising children, caring for the wounded and making the sacrifice of giving their children to war. Ann Reeves Jarvis was a health care proponent who organized Mothers’ Day Work Clubs to promote health issues, particularly those affecting soldiers. Ann Reeves Jarvis also took on the care of both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. For Anna Jarvis, celebrating Mother’s Day was a way to honor her mother by carrying on her work. Due to her tireless campaigning and petitioning, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation in 1914, making the second Sunday in May a national holiday to honor mothers.

From very early on, Mother’s Day was a day to honor those who died in war. On Mother’s Day, mothers decorated the tombs of soldiers with flowers, volunteered to take care of the wounded, and comforted families who lost children in war. In 1924, American War Mothers (A.W.M.), an organization formed by mothers whose children were serving or had served in time of war, received a congressional charter under the Department of Veteran Affairs. Since 1925, the A.W.M., has held Mother’s Day services at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In 1980, the A.W.M.’s was granted the continuing privilege of flying their service flag below the flag of the United States at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Mother’s Day.

Memorial Day
The role of mothers in the recognition of Memorial Day is undeniable. Women began the tradition of decorating the tombs of those who had died in combat with flowers. As national cemeteries began to be created after the Civil War, the tradition of laying flowers became more formal. In 1868, Decoration Day was established as a day to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers. Decoration Day was officially called Memorial in 1967, to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who died while serving in the armed forces and Mother’s Day is a day to honor mothers. But the two holidays have a special connection, not only because both are celebrated in May, but because they both honor the same people – mothers and service members. Memorial Day is a day when those fallen sons and daughters are honored for their sacrifice. Mother’s Day is a day that mother’s honor the children they have lost in war, because Mother’s Day is one of the days that a mother’s loss is felt the most.

For immigrant mothers, the sacrifice, the feelings of loss and pride, are no different. Immigrants have fought in America’s wars since the Revolutionary War. Immigrants comprised eighteen percent of the Union Army during the Civil War. Immigrants and their children account for about fifty-five percent of the total U.S. population growth from 1965 to present. During World War I, 192,000 immigrants acquired citizenship through military service, accounting for half of all naturalization during that period. Since Sept. 11, 2001, over 109,250 immigrants have obtained citizenship through military service.

Today, certain immigrants can still obtain citizenship through military service during war-time. Accelerated naturalization is also available for lawful permanent resident service members who served during peace time.

Special Pathways to Citizenship for Members of the Armed Forces, Veterans and Their Families:

Posthumous Citizenship – INA 329A
Immigrants who died while serving honorably in active duty during time of war, who were in the U.S. or U.S. territory at the time of enlistment or became lawful permanent residents after enlistment, may be granted citizenship posthumously, if the family petitions within 2 years of death. The family must file Form N644. The parent, spouse or child of a service member who was granted posthumous citizenship, may also self-petition within 2 years of the death of the service member. Additionally, a parent, spouse or child of an armed services member may continue their adjustment of status process even after the service member has died, so long as she filed for adjustment of status before she died, served honorably, was in active duty status, and died as a result of combat.

Citizenship for Service During Time of War – INA 329
Members of the Armed Forces (Army, Marines, Air Force Navy, Coast Guard, National Guard, Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve) who are presently serving, or have served during time of war and were honorably discharged, may obtain U.S. citizenship regardless of immigration status. Executive Order 13269, signed by President George W. Bush on July 3, 2002, declared the period beginning on September 11, 2001, as a time of war, thereby providing for expedited naturalization for individuals who served or were honorably discharged after September 2001. (Other designated periods of conflict for which veterans may qualify for expedited naturalization regardless of immigration status are February 28, 1961 to October 15 1978; June 25, 1950 to July 1, 1955; or September 1, 1939 to December 31, 1946). The service member must have enlisted or been inducted in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory. Physical presence and residency requirements do not apply. Additionally, all application and biometrics fees are waived. There is no requirement in INA 329 that the applicant show good moral character for any period, however DHS has adopted 8 CF 329.2(d) that requires Good Moral Character for a period of one year prior to applying, and that requirement has been upheld in some circuits.

Citizenship for Service During Peace Time – INA 328
In general, if you are a veteran who did not serve during a time of war, you may be able to obtain your citizenship without meeting the 3 or 5 year continuous residency requirement, the physical presence requirement, and three month state residency residency requirements. To qualify, you must (1) have served honorably for a continuous or aggregate period of one year; (2) be a permanent resident, and (3) apply during the period of service or within 6 months of separation from the service. If it has been more than 6 months since separation from the service, the service member must meet the 5 year continuous residency requirement. There is no application fee for veterans applying under this provision.

Service members and veterans applying under the provisions of INA 329 or 328, must file Form N-426, Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service with Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Form N-426 must be certified by the military or naval service in which the applicant served, but if she is not able to obtain a certified N-426, she may submit the uncertified N-426 with DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty or NGB Form 22 (the National Guard equivalent).

There are special provisions that take into consideration the special circumstances of service members. For instance, fingerprints taken during enlistment or previous fingerprint records are used instead of scheduling an active duty service member to a biometrics appointment. Basically, there is a different policy for the armed services tailored specifically to the transient nature of military service.

Who May Join The Armed Forces
Generally, one must be a citizen of the United States or lawful permanent resident to enlist in the Armed Forces. There are exceptions for citizens of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau. In addition, certain Canadian citizens of American Indian Heritage may enlist. For other non-citizens, the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Program, established by the Secretary of Defense in 2008, is the only avenue to military service. The MAVNI Program recruits and enlists foreign nationals who possess skills considered vital to the national interest of the United States. The program targets health care professionals and individuals with special language and cultural backgrounds. For example, foreign nationals who are fluent in Haitian-Creole, Serbo-Croatian, French (limited to citizens of African nations), and Russian may be eligible for the MAVNI Program.

Generally, to be eligible for MAVNI, the candidate must have entered the U.S. legally and be in legal status for two years prior to enlistment. Individuals granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) may have these requirements waived. Persons admitted in any of the following categories may apply for MAVNI: Asylee,​ Refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), DACA, or E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V visas. Enlistees may apply for naturalization during or right after basic training depending on the branch of service. Members of the Armed Forces may apply for citizenship in the U.S. or abroad and the process usually takes less than six months.

**Please note that MAVNI program is subject to suspension and has not been renewed for the 2017 fiscal year. However, if you are interested in joining the armed forces, it would be immigration-wise to look out for news of renewal.

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