With the onset of the Iraq war, the military faced a Herculean task of finding new recruits for the army. In the light of that, in 2002 the Bush administration invoked a statute which would grant legal immigrants who serve in the military an opportunity to apply for US citizenship from their first day of active duty and be sworn in as citizens of the United States in as little as 6 months.
In February 2009 under the above mentioned statute, the US army rolled out a program to recruit non citizens with some language skills considered strategic to the US army. It is a pilot program and the new soldiers are recruited under the new initiative Military Accessions Vital to National interest MAVNI.
In return for joining the military and becoming an active duty member, the new recruit is eligible to apply immediately for U.S. citizenship and could become a US citizen in as little as 6 (six) months. The Army will assist the new recruit in his or her naturalization application, provide application guidance if any family members are involved, and waive the naturalization fee of $675.
The military hopes that this carrot and stick approach will be an instant success. Even though the job of military recruiters has become easier with the present recession with many people who lost their jobs opting to join the military, the army still has some difficulty in recruiting language experts, doctors and specialized nurses.
The program is in its early stages and is recruiting mostly for the army. However, if it is as successful as hoped, the Pentagon plans to roll it out to all branches of the military. For the army in particular, it will provide about 14,000 new recruits every year.
The languages covered in the program are 35 in number and they include Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese, Czech, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro, Nepalese, Persian (Dari and Farsi), Polish, Punjabi, Pashto, Russian, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Somali, Tamil, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu and Yoruba.
Who can participate in this program?
- You must speak one of the above mentioned languages
- You must be in the US in the E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M,O , P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, OR V nonimmigrant category. (You must not have left the US on a single trip for more than 90 days in the past 2 years)
- You could be an asylee, refugee, or Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- Or a medical professional in a medical specialty with a short fall in the armed forces and this includes doctors, nurses, dentists and some other healthcare professionals.
- You must also have had at least 2 years of legal US residency
- Students are also encouraged to apply
How do I apply to the MAVNI program?
- If you are a medical professional or you are applying based on your knowledge of one or more of the strategic languages visit army recruiting.