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Immigration Law

AILA MAP Victory: USCIS Updates Interpretation of “Under Honorable Conditions” for Military Naturalization

USCIS, Aug. 2, 2022

"U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is publishing an update to its Policy Manual to clarify that a current or former service member who received an uncharacterized discharge may be eligible for naturalization under sections 328 and 329 of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).

Previously, USCIS had interpreted the requirement for a separation “under honorable conditions” in INA 328 and INA 329 to require a separation characterized as either Honorable or General-Under Honorable Conditions. This policy guidance (PDF, 340.22 KB) [Uncharacterized Military Discharges Eligible for Naturalization] changes the USCIS interpretation of “under honorable conditions” to encompass Uncharacterized discharges as well as Honorable and General-Under Honorable Conditions discharges.

This interpretation aligns with a Department of Defense instruction on the interpretation of discharges and with a recent district court decision. This guidance will be effective upon publication of the Policy Manual update and will apply to all pending and future applications. Applicants whom USCIS previously denied can submit a new application without fee."

[See also: DoD Instruction, Change 7, eff. June 23, 2022: https://www.esd.whs.mil/Portals/54/Documents/DD/issuances/dodi/133214p.pdf.  Hats off to AILA MAP lawyers, especially Neil T. O'Donnell.  They have been litigating this issue for years!]