Undocumented Immigrants to be Allowed To Serve in US Military

As recently reported by USA Today – A new U.S. Department of Defense policy known as Military Accessions in the National Interest (or MAVNI), will allow a small number of undocumented immigrants an opportunity to join the military. If successful, this would be the first time in decades that non-U.S. citizens were allowed to serve. The new Pentagon policy may be the first phase of a broader government-wide effort to create new government streams to citizenship.

Allowing Undocumented Immigrants in the US Military

Capped at 1,500 recruits per year, the program will be open to immigrants without a proper U.S. visa. The new rules will expand an existing program allowing recruiters to target foreign nationals with high-demand skills, mainly specialized health care training or foreign language skills.

Uncertainty Regarding DACA Status Immigrants

Officials say it’s unclear how many of those might be unlawful DACA status immigrants as opposed to others who are also eligible for military service under MAVNI, including those with legal, nonpermanent visas such as students or tourists. Pentagon officials don’t know how many of those immigrants have actually learned their ancestral language to the proficiency required by the military.

“We’re just not sure how many within that existing population of DACA would have the linguistic skills to qualify,” said one defense official familiar with the policy change. “These are kids who entered the country at a fairly young age and have basically grown up in the United States, so the limit of their language talents would probably be the language that they received at home.”

The Military Accessions in the National Interest Program’s Future

The MAVNI program began in 2008 and remains a pilot program. The Pentagon notified Congress that the program, which was due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, will be extended for another two years and will for the first time include DACA-status immigrants.

The military services are not required to accept recruits under MAVNI. In recent years, the Army has been the only service to accept a significant number of recruits under the program. The Air Force has accepted only a few and the Navy and Marine Corps have not sought MAVNI recruits in recent years.

We will report more on this and other related immigration stories as the information becomes available.

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Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

4 thoughts on “Undocumented Immigrants to be Allowed To Serve in US Military


    I am a young and active man,A Cameroonian from birth, i will be very happy to defend the U S A flag.serving the USA millitary has always been my dream.

    1. owen

      Hello Tabah,

      In order to serve in the US Armed Forces you typically have to be a US citizen or Permanent Resident. We would be happy to help you determine your options for coming to the US, so please feel free to fill out our online assessment form and one of our immigration professionals will be in touch with you shortly.



    I want to join the US Military.

    1. owen

      Hello Adolphus,

      In order to join the US military you must be a US citizen or Permanent Resident. The great thing about joining the US military is that once you enlist, your naturalization will be greatly expedited such that once you begin basic training, you will become a US citizen. We can definitely assist you with this process, please refer to for more information.



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