US Citizenship Process Through JAG

How long does it take to process my citizenship if I pushed papers through JAG? I am on assignment to Korea and I am planning to file my citizenship there. A friend of mine who is on the Navy just received his US Citizenship status. He also filed his papers through Navy Legal Assistance. He was assigned in Japan during that time. Hopefully Korea JAG can help me. Thank you.

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Hey buddy. Let me tell you my story on the topic you posted.

I actually applied for mine in Korea a month after I PCSed from AIT straight to the "Morning Calm". The JAG Officer in Camp Humphreys I believe was a korean lawyer working for DoD (he was not wearing a uniform or carrying any military title). I was VERY pleased with his curtecy and williness to help. He helped me fill the N-400 and even printed President Bush's Act of 2004 (forgot the name) which is a law allowing legal permanent residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces to wave previous 3-year Active Duty requirement for getting U.S. Citizenship through the military service.

Everything was FREE! He even sealed the envelope on the spot and wrote the mailing address of the INS office in the States where I had to send the N-400 and Statement of Service. I mean, he did an excellent job helping me! Usually JAG is very limited in their legal services. He told me do everything as he says and everything is going to be fine.

I sent my application August 28th. In October I got a Notice of Action from INS saying that my case is recieved and being processed. In November I got an invitation to citizenship interview back in the States. AR 600-8-10 "Leaves and Passes", Paragraph 5-32 (h) states that Soldiers may request up to 10 days of non-chargeable Permissive TDY leave for naturalization purposes. I took 10 free days plus 10 regular days to see my family and attend the citizenship interview. Of course I had to pay for my ticket from Seoul to St. Louis.

My interview was easy. The INS Officer who conducted it was a prior AirForce servicemember who was stationed in Osan, Korea Smiler We spent some time talking about Osan. He said that I would have to come back for the Naturalization ceremony later because in many INS offices they do the Oath and naturalization ceremony at the local District Court House and it's usually done on a certain day of the month. I told him that I have to fly back to Korea and he said come to us once you return and we will take care of you. Some INS offices like ones in NY and TX may schedule you to take an Oath the same day. Without taking an Oath you can not be a U.S. Citizen. It's the final yet very important part of naturalization.

Well, I had a family emergency month later and had to return back to CONUS. After I took care of my family I stopped by the same INS office and told them that I am going to be here for another two weeks. They said okay, write a statement that you want to take an Oath now because you are here and already passed interview and Language/U.S. History exams. Two days later I got a letter in the mail inviting me to the naturalization ceremony at the District Court.

It was a mass ceremony ruled by the Judge. Among almost 40 people I was the only one U.S Army Soldier. We had to stand up, introduce ourselves and tell what we do. After his speach we rose right hand and cited the Oath of Alligience. The Judge personally shook my hand and thanked for the service. I had to wait because my naturalization certificate was not ready. I cut in front of other civilians waiting once they called my name. From what I understand the Government takes a good care of their own. I know for a fact that civilians wait at least 8-12 months just to be scheduled for the interview after they file N-400, and even longer for the ceremony because of the thorough background checks!!! The whole process took me 5 months and 2 days. Same day I got my Naturalizsation Certificate I went to the Post Office and applied for the passport. I got it in the mail a month later when I returned to Korea.

The rules has changed since then and you got it easy. You will not have to pay $325 application fee and fly back to the States for interview and Oath. The Congress waived application fee for military personnel in 2005 and local U.S. Embassies overseas will accomodate service members right there. I was surprised why they can't do my Oath the same day. It is funny, but the INS office I went for the citizenship interview was in the same building with MEPS station where I took Oath of Enlistment! They had a room with flag and Officers but oh well...I had to come back to the Court to do that. You will probably take your interview and Oath at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Save $325 to celebrate Smiler You do not have to fly back and pay anything, they will do that right there!

If you want to change your legal name to something more-like american you have the ONE-TIME chance to do that on N-400. There is a block where you can put a new name that you want as a new U.S. Citizen. If you want to do it later that would involve more paperwork and going in the Court.

P.S. I applied for immigration visa for my Mom who still lives overseas. Her case got approved in THREE MONTHS and I believe this is because I am in the military. Bringing family members here is a hassle taking up to several years but military cuts through the line Smiler This is one of the benefits you have serving Uncle Sugar.

Good luck to you!

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