By Debbie Gregory.
When she was growing up in the Philippines, Air Force Reserve Senior Airman Anne Venice Jalos never envisioned that one day she would be serving in the U.S. military. She also never thought that the military service would lead to her becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen.
But soon after graduating high school, Jalos made the decision to enlist in the Air Force. Luckily for Jalos, her recruiter was well-versed on the military guidance on naturalization.
Special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) authorize U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to expedite the application and naturalization process for current members of the U.S. armed forces and recently discharged servicemembers. Generally, qualifying military service includes service with one of the following: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard. In addition, spouses of members of the U.S. armed forces who are or will be deployed may be eligible for expedited naturalization. Other provisions of the law also allow certain spouses to complete the naturalization process abroad.
Four weeks of citizenship testing and the successful completion of basic training soon culminated in what would be one of the most meaningful moments in Jalos’ life.
“When I was presented with my Airman’s coin at graduation and I knew I was officially a citizen, I was overwhelmed,” the finance manager with the 446th Airlift Wing said. “Saying, ‘I am an American Airman’ finally had so much meaning to me because I knew that I really was an American.”
Jalos exhibited the requirements needed to qualify for the program: good moral character; knowledge of the English language; knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics), and attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.
“Being in the military has changed my life,” Jalos said. “I know I can become who I want to be.”