Overseas military naturalization services will now be available once a quarter at four military installations overseas — a move that comes as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services closes multiple international field offices over the next 10 months.
Rather than visit one of 23 USCIS international field offices, service members overseas will instead travel to one of the following military installations to complete the naturalization process: Camp Humphreys in South Korea, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart in Germany, and Naval Support Activity Naples in Italy.
These locations were specifically selected based on which international field offices were handling a majority of overseas military naturalization applications, a USCIS official told reporters.
USCIS officers will complete the trip to Camp Humphreys and Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka in late October and early November — marking the first time USCIS officers will provide naturalization services at one of the hubs.
“Ensuring that the men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting the United States of America can become citizens while serving abroad is of paramount importance,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said in a statement.
“These service members and their families sacrifice so much to keep our country safe and free. I thank the Department of Defense for partnering with USCIS to ensure naturalization services remain available throughout their deployments overseas,” Cuccinelli said.
Under the new set up, USCIS officers will coordinate with the Department of Defense to visit each installation for one week each quarter. Individuals will have scheduled appointments with USCIS officers who will provide naturalization services.
A USCIS official told reporters that many of the forms and applications involved in the naturalization process can be done online and doesn’t require an office visit. Ideally, this means that only one visit to one of the hubs is necessary, the official said.
“The hope is that everything is going to be completed during that one visit,” the official said.
In the event an individual cannot visit a designated hub while USCIS officers are there, the agency will work with the individual on a case-by-case basis to figure out how to proceed.
According to the agency, USCIS received 347 overseas military naturalization applications in fiscal year 2018 and has so far received 520 in fiscal year 2019.
Although applications are growing and service members have fewer locations to visit for these naturalization services, a USCIS official claimed that they sought to make the process more streamlined for military personnel.
“We’ve strived very, very hard to make this a seamless transition and a seamless process, and our first priority has been and always will be our military personnel,” the official said.
Should the four hubs not be sufficient to handle the amount of naturalization requests pouring in, another hub could be created, the official said.
In August, USCIS announced 13 international field offices would be cut by August 2020. The first round of field offices closed on Sept. 30, including field offices in Seoul, South Korea and Moscow.
Field offices in Athens, Greece; Bangkok; Frankfurt, Germany; Rome, Italy, and others are scheduled to close by August 2020.
In addition to the four hubs at military installations, seven international field offices in Asia, Africa, and Central America will remain open.