National Guard Citizenship Requirements

I get lots of people asking me about joining the Army National Guard and the Army in general. With the heated debates currently over immigration reform, a question that often couples their inquiry is whether or not you have to be a US Citizen to join the U.S. Army.  It may surprise some of you to learn that you do not have to be a U.S. citizen in order to join the Army National Guard, but there are certain restrictions.  You do, however, need to be a legal permanent resident. In other words, you need to have a “green card.” You can not simply enlist with a student visa or work visa.  In addition to be eligible you must:

  • Have entered the United States on a permanent residence visa or have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form 1-551/I-551 green-card or stamped I-94)
  • Established a bona fide residence
  • Established a home of record in the United States.

It is important to note that the visa and/or “green-card” must have sufficient time remaining on it to be valid during the entire term on enlistment. Also, your MOSs are limited as you cannot hold any MOS that requires a security clearance.  While non-citizens may enlist in the Army National Guard, they are not allowed to serve more the 8 years unless they first become a U.S. Citizen. One thing to keep in mind is that service in the Army National Guard and US Military often helps you to actually become a US Citizen, so it is often a very popular choice for those seeking US Citizenship.

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6 thoughts on “National Guard Citizenship Requirements”

  1. If I remember correctly, I remember being surprised when I learned that not all soldiers were US citizens. Maybe that doesn’t apply with part-timers. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before but I’m wondering if some blogs about the family and their coping on the weekends that the reservist is training, the refresher week annually, or even if the soldier is called to duty. They don’t get mush time to prepare, and many have marginal coping skills, they didn’t have anyone setting a good example.

  2. I was pondering this article, and a question came to mind. In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shootings, along with other information about the presence of unfriendly Muslim activity worldwide and in our country, do you think this policy will change? I appreciate those who come to this country and willingly serve in the ARNG; however, I think the risk may outweigh the benefits. Any talks about revisiting this issue? Just wondering.

    1. Very few people have responded, since it is a “touchy subject.” However, I still agree with my original post that everyone should be a citizen BEFORE they join the military.

  3. Serving in the military makes the naturalization a whole lot easier. In 2002, Congress actually modified the requirement for three years of honorable military service to one year during peacetime status. President Bush signed Executive Order 13269 in 2002, which allowed anyone non-US citizen who was on active duty on or after 9/11 and who served honorably to be eligible for naturalization, regardless of time served, even it was one day. The requirements for naturalization regarding honest reporting of criminal activity, as well as proficiency in the English language and an understanding of basic American civics, are still enforced.

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