GuidelinesHow the Courage to Serve Act Can Help You Obtain a US...

How the Courage to Serve Act Can Help You Obtain a US Green Card: A Complete Guide

The Courage to Serve Act is a new bipartisan bill introduced in the US Congress in February 2024 that aims to provide an expedited path to US citizenship for qualified and vetted migrants who serve in the US military. This comprehensive guide will cover the key aspects of using the Courage to Serve Act to get a green card, including:

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible under the Courage to Serve Act, migrants must:

  • Successfully complete background checks by both USCIS and FBI
  • Be admissible to the United States
  • Meet all other requirements for enlistment in the US Armed Forces

The bill would allow a limited number of qualified migrants meeting these criteria to receive expedited processing of their citizenship applications in exchange for military service.


Key benefits of the Courage to Serve Act include:

  • Expedited path to citizenship: Migrants who serve for 3 years, 1 year in an active duty zone, or 30 days in a combat zone can apply for expedited citizenship within 180 days of enlistment. This is much faster than the typical 5+ year process.
  • Opportunity to serve: For migrants who wish to serve, the Act provides a path to give back while also gaining citizenship. Military service is an honorable way to contribute.
  • Address critical recruitment needs: With the military facing recruiting shortfalls exceeding 40,000 in 2023, the Act helps fill vacant positions with motivated candidates.

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Application Process

The application process under the Courage to Serve Act would involve:

  1. Establish eligibility: Determine if you meet all requirements related to background checks, admissibility, and qualifications for military service.
  2. Enlist in military: If eligible, enlist in one of the branches of the US military – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Space Force.
  3. Serve honorably: Serve for the designated period of either 3 years total, 1 year in an active duty zone, or 30 days in a combat zone. Maintain an honorable record.
  4. Apply for expedited citizenship: Once service requirements are met, apply for expedited citizenship within 180 days by submitting required forms and documents to USCIS.
  5. Get naturalized: After approval, attend a citizenship ceremony to complete the naturalization process.


Some potential drawbacks to consider include:

  • Military service: Serving in the military involves real risk and requires great commitment and sacrifice. It is not for everyone.
  • Background checks: The extensive background checks may disqualify certain applicants with issues in their past. Standards are strict.
  • Application costs: While serving, soldiers earn a modest income. USCIS application fees can present a financial burden for some families.


The Courage to Serve Act currently faces an uncertain outlook. While the bill has bipartisan Congressional support, it still needs broader approval to be enacted into law.

However, the concept aligns with precedents set by previous programs like MAVNI that successfully recruited immigrants with vital skills.

With military recruiting challenges persisting, many experts argue the Act would provide mutual benefit.

Time will tell if the Courage to Serve Act eventually helps provide expedited paths to citizenship for those migrants wishing to serve the country that is now their home. Its passage would give hope and opportunity to many eager to contribute to national defense.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about the Courage to Serve Act:

What are the eligibility requirements to qualify under the Courage to Serve Act?

To qualify, migrants must successfully pass background checks by USCIS and FBI, be admissible to the United States, and meet all other requirements for enlistment in the military such as fitness, age, and education credentials.

Does the Act allow undocumented immigrants to serve?

No, only immigrants who have legal status in the United States would be eligible under the Courage to Serve Act. Undocumented immigrants are still prohibited from enlisting in the military.

How long must one serve to get expedited citizenship under the Act?

To qualify for expedited naturalization, migrants must serve honorably for either 3 total years, 1 year in an active duty combat zone, or 30 days in an officially designated combat zone.

What costs are involved in the application process under the Courage to Serve Act?

Like other citizenship applicants, migrants would be responsible for paying required USCIS application fees which can total $1,170 or more. Costs may be defrayed somewhat by military pay and legal assistance programs.

Can family members also get expedited paths to citizenship under the Act?

No, the Courage to Serve Act only applies to the principal migrant applicant who serves in the military. However, once naturalized, soldiers can then petition to sponsor certain family members.

What branches of military service would qualify under the Courage to Serve Act?

Qualifying service would include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Space Force. Applicants who enlist must still meet all normal entry requirements.

Does the Courage to Serve Act have a chance of being enacted into law soon?

While the Act currently has bipartisan support, experts say the odds of it being approved in the near future are uncertain. Immigration reform faces significant legislative and political hurdles before key provisions can be enacted.

Would migrants qualify for VA home loans and other veterans’ benefits after naturalizing under the Act?

Yes, immigrants who are naturalized through military service qualify for nearly all of the same veterans’ benefits as native-born citizen soldiers including VA home loans, healthcare, education support, and more.

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