Defense Department Recruiting Immigrants with Special Skills

Good news for immigrants with medical training and/or fluency in any of 44 strategic languages: the U.S. military has revived a special recruiting program called Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) that provides an expedited path to citizenship for participants, bypassing the lengthy green card process. [See Pentagon Reopens Program Allowing Immigrants with Special Skills to Enlist, by Julia Preston, New York Times, 27.Oct.2012.]

According to the Times, the MAVNI program will recruit about 1,500 people a year, most of them going to the U.S. Army. MAVNI recruits must meet the following standards.

1. Individuals must be in one of the following categories at the time of their enlistment:

  • Nonimmigrant categories E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V
  • Asylee, refugee, temporary protected status (TPS)

2. Individuals must be legally present in the United States for a minimum of 2 years without a single extended absence over 90 days

3. Individuals must meet certain Army criteria, to include:

  • [for healthcare professionals:] Must receive qualifying scores on the Armed Forces qualification test and an English language proficiency test, as well as be fully licensed in the United States
  • [for language recruits:] Must possess a high school diploma, plus qualifying scores on the Armed Forces qualification test and proficiency test in the native language.

[See MAVNI Factsheet: Healthcare Professionals.]

According to Army officials who spoke to the Times, MAVNI recruits are carefully vetted, both for professional qualifications and for security concerns, and their performance on tests and on duty tend to be well above average. Those who qualify for the program are in the enviable position of gaining U.S. citizenship on the fast track. An Army factsheet says, “the goal is to naturalize all soldiers by the time they graduate from ten weeks of basic training.”

Further information on the MAVNI program can be requested through the U.S. Army WebSite.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.