MPF expedites citizenship process |
by Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
10/3/2011 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The United States is home to millions of immigrants who have travelled here in search of education, employment, freedom and their own share of the American dream.
For some Team Dover members, their journey to become an American citizen was completed at the Dover Air Force Base, Del., Military Personnel Flight, where service members who joined the military with a green card can apply for full citizenship at no cost, according to special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"This is a program most people do not find out about until it is too late [to reenlist], or wish they would have found out about sooner," said Senior Airman Fanchon Anderson, a personnel journeyman with the 436th Force Support Squadron.
To begin the process of applying for citizenship, service members should visit the customer support section at the MPF building. Personnelists provide applicants with a memorandum listing all the necessary documents. The memorandum also contains instructions and contact information with agencies members will have to contact to continue the process. Members should bring their military ID, two passport photos obtained from the base photo lab, and the completed forms listed on the memorandum.
"Once the applicant submits the initial paperwork, it is out of our hands; it is handled by the [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office]," said Anderson. "During this stage of the application process, it is the applicant's responsibility to maintain communication with the [USCIS]."
Once the USCIS processes the paperwork, the applicant may return to the customer support desk and have the final signatures added to finish the process. Once a citizen, the service member's enlistment code is changed so they are eligible to reenlist.
Some may be intimidated by the number of steps involved to complete the process, yet according to Anderson, becoming a citizen is easier than one may assume.
"It is a fairly painless process because applicants can always ask [the MPF] for assistance," said Anderson. "Plus it is free, confidential and generally processed quicker than applications for civilians."
Sometimes the process can be exponentially quicker. While many civilians must wait several years, service members enjoy the benefit of having their application treated with higher priority. Airman 1st Class Paul Mutwiri, a personnelist with the 436th FSS and native of Nairobi, Kenya, had his application processed from start to finish in two months.
"It was an easy transition, partly because I learned English [back home], and because the military made the process simple," said Mutwiri. "I would recommend [noncitizens serving in the military to complete the process] because it is free and easy."
For service members who have travelled from foreign lands to protect America and its people, the path to becoming a citizen of the country they defend can begin today with a visit to the Dover AFB Military Personnel Flight.