Military to Expand Expedited Citizenship Program

According to press reports, the military will expand an obscure program that offers expedited citizenship to certain immigrants with specialized skills. The program, Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), seeks to fill knowledge gaps in certain language and health care areas.

Ordinarily, an immigrant must be a U.S. permanent resident for a minimum of three or five years before becoming eligible for citizenship. However, the MAVNI program is available to certain immigrants even if they are not permanent residents. Potential recruits who are refugees or asylees, or who have Temporary Protected Status, may be eligible to bypass the lawful permanent residence stage altogether. So might individuals who are in the U.S. on certain nonimmigrant visas. The program is also available to certain individuals who are protected from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The military is looking for expertise in certain medical specialties where it has a critical shortfall, as well as for people with special language and culture backgrounds. This fact sheet lists the languages for which the military is seeking expertise, but individual services may need expertise in additional languages.

Among other requirements, people with medical specialties must commit to a minimum of three years of active duty or six years in the Selected Reserve. Individuals with language specialties must commit to a minimum of four years of active duty.

The original program launched in 2008 as a pilot project with a cap of 1,000 recruits, and recently it has been capped at 1,500 recruits. It is being expanded to recruit up to 3,000 individuals this year and up to 5,000 in fiscal year 2016.

For more on the requirements for this program, see the MAVNI fact sheet, which gives the general requirements across the military services. Another fact sheet lists some of the medical expertise the Army is seeking, in addition to the general requirements for the program.

A section of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website is dedicated to other citizenship benefits that are available to members of the military and their families.

Posted on April 8, 2015

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People come to America from all over the world with dreams of achieving a better life for themselves and their families and calling this great nation home. Eight million people who live, work, and pay taxes in this country are eligible for citizenship, yet only about eight percent of them naturalize each year. Find out more about these individuals and the barriers they face.Read More