Texas troops living overseas already have a difficult time. They put their lives in harm’s way while dealing with the loneliness that distance brings.

For troops who have found a family outside of the United States and those already vying for citizenship, changes in the naturalization process may make things even harder going forward.

Closing the doors

In September 2019, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that they would be closing 19 of their 23 naturalization offices across the globe. This change limits the places military personnel and their families can go for citizenship to four locations in just as many countries. The USCIS states it is a move in line with new policies regarding their worldwide presence, but it is a policy that could make it much more difficult for non-citizens to become naturalized.

With five field offices already closed by September 30th, the USCIS plans on removing the remaining 15 locations by the end of 2020. This will severely limit the ways that troops and their families can apply and acquire citizenship to four hubs that will only be open for naturalization one week each quarter.

A narrow path to citizenship

South Korea, Japan, Germany and Italy will host the only remaining naturalization offices. Deployed troops will have to schedule appointments with the offices during one of the hub’s available weeks for assessment. Military states will work with troops and the USCIS to ease this transition, making travel arrangements more available to those needing to make trips under such limiting circumstances.

Non-citizen troops and their families will still have the opportunity to apply for citizenship on the home front, but making arrangements for these excursions can be just as arduous. Out of the country, troops have faced a 17.6% denial rate for applications. While this is higher than civilian rates by over 5%, the USCIS hopes to make nationalization easier despite closings.