October 10, 2012
In order to strengthen the military prowess of the United States, the Department of Defense (DOD) has reinstated a program that allows certain nonimmigrants to enlist in the various branches of the US military. Known as the “Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) Recruitment Pilot,” the program is exceptionally beneficial to eligible nonimmigrants as it provides an expedited path to United States citizenship.
There are several requirements to be eligible for enlistment under the MAVNI program. First, an applicant must be between the ages of 17-34. Second, the individual must be an asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status, or in valid nonimmigrant status. Eligible nonimmigrant visa holders include the following categories: E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V. On a case-by-case basis, the military will also consider individuals who were in a valid nonimmigrant status when filing for adjustment of status to permanent residency, but no longer continued the nonimmigrant status after the filing of the adjustment application.
Third, if the individual is a nonimmigrant, the individual must have been in that valid nonimmigrant status for at least two years immediately before the individual’s enlistment date. During those two years, the nonimmigrant must not have been outside the US for more than 90 days.
The final requirement for qualification under the MAVNI program is that the individual must be a needed health care professional or have a strategic foreign language skill. The types of health care professionals that qualify under MAVNI are many, such as doctors, dentists and nurses. As well, the qualifying foreign language skills are vast: Albanian; Amharic; Arabic; Azerbaijani; Bengali; Burmese; Cambodian-Khmer; Cebuano; Chinese; Czech; French; Haitian-Creole; Hausa; Hindi; Hungarian; Igo; Indonesian; Korean; Kurdish; Lao; Malay; Malayalam; Moro; Nepalese; Persian; Polish; Portuguese; Punjabi; Pushtu; Russian; Serbo-Croatian; Sindhi; Sinhalese; Somali; Swahili; Tagalog; Tajik; Tamil; Thai; Turkish; Turkmen; Urdu; Uzbek; and Yoruba.
All applicants must as well fulfill all other standard requirements for enlistment into the US military, such as criminal background checks, health screenings, etc. If enlisted under the MAVNI program, health care providers will be required to commit to at least three years of active duty or six years in the Selected Reserved, while individuals with special language skills will be required to enlist for at least 4 years of active duty.
The ability for nonimmigrants to enlist in the US military is a tremendous benefit as it provides an expedited path to US citizenship. Individuals who enlist are able to entirely skip the green card process and immediately proceed directly to applying for US citizenship.
The ability to apply for enlistment into the US military under the reinstated MAVNI program began on October 1, 2012. The maximum number of individuals that will be accepted is only 1,500 per year, so interested individuals should apply as soon as possible. The MAVNI program is currently available only until May 16, 2014.