Path to citizenship easier now for Reservists

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jake Chappelle
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The process just got easier for foreign nationals in the Air Force Reserve to become U.S. citizen Airmen.

U.S. citizenship application forms, checklists and other supporting documents recently became available through the Virtual Personnel Center-Guard Reserve link on the Air Reserve Personnel Center Web site.

"Before it was just an active-duty focus," said Tech. Sgt. James Murphy. "Now we're taking a total force approach because the Reserve and Guard are essential to everything the Air Force does today." Sergeant Murphy serves as the NCO in charge of military customer service representatives at AFPC's Air Force Contact Center, Randolph AFB, Texas and as the citizenship liaison between the Air Force and USCIS.

Senior Airman Olga Fedorovskaya is one Airman who is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen through the total force application. Airman Fedorovskaya is an Air Force Reserve air transportation apprentice with the 86th Aerial Port Squadron here. Airman Fedorovskaya moved to Washington from Sevastopol, Ukraine, eight years ago.

"I go to Peninsula Community College, but I plan to get a degree in finance from the University of Washington and get a full-time job," said Airman Fedorovskaya. "Being a U.S. citizen will help me do it."

Airman Fedorovskaya decided to follow in her brother's footsteps by joining the military and applying for her citizenship. Although he went into the Army, she found the Air Force process smoother.

"The ARPC helped me put together my application," said Airman Fedorovskaya. "They also checked in on me throughout the process to make sure it was going smooth."

One way the process is smoother is because Sergeant Murphy personally sends out about 900 e-mails with information on the naturalization process.

"We're here to help all Air Force team members get their foot in the door," said Sergeant Murphy. "If a problem arises after the documents are sent to USCIS, we can assist by checking on the status of their packet and by speeding the process along if need be."

Another way that the process is smoother is that servicemembers who apply for citizenship don't have to pay the $675 naturalization application fee or wait the five years required for civilians to start the process.

"It's an honor to be able to help my fellow Airmen become true Americans, since the advantages of citizenship are so clear," said Sergeant Murphy. "Without their U.S. citizenship, they can't re-enlist, vote or get security clearances."

"I'll have more freedom once I am a U.S. citizen," said Airman Fedorovskaya. "I don't have to hide anything about who I am in America. I can be myself and that means a lot to me."

For more information on citizenship procedures, call the Air Force Contact Center at (800) 616-3773. On-line information can be found on the secure sites of the Air Force Personnel Center and Air Reserve Personnel Center.

(Richard Salomon, Air Force Personnel Center public affairs, contributed to this article.)