Dual Citizenship of U.S. Army Soldiers

By Julius Reyes, Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office

The issue of mandatory military service for individuals holding dual citizenship raises complex questions surrounding the obligations and rights of citizens in both their adopted country and their country of origin. Dual citizenship grants individuals the unique status of being recognized as citizens by two countries simultaneously. This recognition enables them to enjoy the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities associated with citizenship in both nations. However, when it comes to military service obligations, dual citizens often find themselves navigating a complex web of legal obligations and potential conflicts between their two citizenships.

What happens when a U.S. Soldier with dual citizenship, a citizen of both the United States and another country (which is their country of origin), faces the prospect of mandatory military service in their country of origin while actively serving in the United States Army? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, dual citizens are subject to the same military service requirements as any other U.S. citizen. In practical terms, this means that individuals with dual citizenship residing in the U.S. may be obligated to fulfill mandatory military service if they meet the eligibility criteria and voluntarily enlist in the U.S. military.

The U.S. military has established specific regulations to govern the eligibility criteria and service obligations for all U.S. citizens, regardless of their dual citizenship status. These regulations are designed to ensure that all service members meet the necessary requirements and fulfill their service obligations within the U.S. Armed Forces. When it comes to dual citizens, the U.S. military regulations apply uniformly to all service members, regardless of their dual citizenship status. This means that if a dual citizen meets the eligibility criteria and voluntarily enlists in the U.S. military, they will typically be expected to fulfill their service obligations just like any other U.S. citizen serving in the Armed Forces.

It is important to note that while the United States military has its regulations, the specific requirements and considerations for dual citizens serving in the military can vary depending on factors such as the military branch they serve in, their deployment status, and the country of their dual citizenship. It is essential for dual citizens to seek legal guidance and consult immigration attorneys and military experts familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to their specific circumstances to ensure a comprehensive understanding of their rights, obligations, and potential exemptions related to dual citizenship and military service.

Regarding naturalization as a U.S. citizen, under the USCIS regulations, a military member whose naturalization was granted on the basis of military service may be subject to revocation if they were separated from the U.S. Armed Forces under other than honorable conditions before serving honorably for a period totaling at least five years. In 2003, Congress enacted legislation that reduced the period of service required for military naturalization based on peacetime service from three years to one year. However, for military members who served in an active-duty status during a period of hostilities and were separated from the U.S. Armed Forces under other than honorable conditions, the naturalization period may be extended to require honorable service for a total of five years before applying for naturalization.

If you have any further questions on dual citizenship as it relates to military service, or questions regarding the naturalization process for Soldiers to become U.S. citizens, please schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney at Fort Bliss Legal Assistance Office by either calling (915) 568-7141 during office hours or emailing usarmy.bliss.hqda-otjag.mesg.bliss-legal-assistance-office@mail.mil anytime.