FORT EUSTIS, Va. (August 7, 2009) -- The U.S. government is offering American citizenship to immigrant Soldiers through an expedited process in turn for their military service. If immigrants have correct documentation and are approved for the expedited process, they may receive citizenship in as little as three months.A,A Former President George W. Bush signed an executive order in July 2002 permitting immigrants with green cards to become U.S. citizens upon being sworn in, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
"I joined the military because many other people my age were able to go to school and work as a result of their service," said Pvt. Lillian Kavishe, a Reserve Soldier from Tanzania who recently obtained her U.S. citizenship. "It motivates me so that I can do something as a female to support myself and make the kind of life that I want."
Congress further specified Bush's executive order in 2004. Elaborations stated that any legal resident who enlists may immediately petition for American citizenship rather than wait the five years normally required to start the process. Prior to the executive order, those in the military were required to wait three years before gaining citizenship.
Kavishe filed an N-400 (Application for Naturalization) form in January 2008 and joined the Reserves after her documents had been submitted for expedited citizenship.
"As soon as I received my letter of the expedited process, I knew the military would help me gain my citizenship quicker," said Kavishe. "It was to my advantage."
Though Kavishe has been in the U.S. for 10 years, she was granted U.S. citizenship only three months after joining the Army. She is currently undergoing Advanced Individual Training for transportation and logistics.
"I've had great experiences," said Kavishe. "When I finished Basic Training, my transition from being a civilian to a Soldier was very quick. I learned how to be an efficient worker and how to be punctual. My way of thinking has been challenged. I know that as a team, anything is possible and the mission can be accomplished."A,A
Kavishe began her military serviceA,A as a private first class and is currently attending MedCentral College of Nursing in Mansfield, Ohio, online, working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Her former installation is located in Cleveland. She will be reporting back upon completion of the militaryA,A occupational specialty training.A,A
Similar to Kavishe, 8th Transportation Brigade Soldier Cpl. Carla Gordon has also earned her U.S. citizenship through her service in the Army. Coming to the U.S. from Palau, Micronesia, Gordon began her service in the U.S. Army as a private in October 2006 and was sworn in Feb. 13, 2006, at the McArthur Memorial in Norfolk. She began working for the 8th Trans. Bde. command sergeant major administration in March 2007 and is now a U.S. citizen.
"I started in 508 Transportation where we train lieutenants and AIT [Advanced Individual Training] students. When I moved up to 8th Brigade, it was different," said Gordon. "Before, I was involved in a lot of physical work. Now I am doing lots of office work and have more responsibility. Rather than keeping in touch with your team leaders in the unit, you also have to keep in touch with your NCO [non commissioned officer], Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Reid (8th Trans. Bde. command sergeant major), and Col. Daniel Georgi (8th Trans. Bde. commander). It's been a big change."
Gordon will remain on the Fort Eustis installation until the Transportation school moves to Fort Lee in 2011. For more information about gaining citizenship through military service, call the Denbigh Army Recruiters Station at 890-6219.