Pentagon Declares Recruits Are on the Path to Obtain U.S. Citizenship Once Again
Since 2009, more than 10,000 recruits have entered the military through the MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) program. The MAVNI program allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the United States to join the U.S. military and apply immediately for U.S. citizenship using Form N-400, “Application for Naturalization” without first obtaining lawful permanent residence. This program was originally started to recruit immigrants with urgently needed medical and language skills for which we were lacking in the United States.
Pentagon Making Major Changes to Immigration Recruitment Program
Just last year the MAVNI program was brought to a stop when the Pentagon determined it did not have proper security and safeguards in place against potential insider threats. This past Friday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made the announcement that he is revamping this program. “We are taking the steps obviously to save the program, if it can be saved,” Mattis told reporters.
Previously, recruits were allowed to head to initial military training as long as their background investigation had been initiated and they had passed all other screening requirements. Now, foreign-born recruits “must complete a background investigation and obtain a favorable military security suitability determination (MSSD) prior to entry in the active, reserve, or guard service.” In addition to this, the foreign-born troops will not gain expedited citizenship until they have completed 180 consecutive days of active duty service or “one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve.” In the past, recruits used to receive a certification of honorable service in order to start expedited naturalization after just one day of service. Troops that are presently serving and already have this certification will face a longer process to gain citizenship.
These changes will begin immediately and will affect about 10,000 immigrants in the program, mainly those in the army. Recruits will have to complete the background check before being shipped away to basic training.
Jim Mattis’ announcement is the first sure sign the Pentagon has shied away from internal propositions to terminate the MAVNI program and disregard the contracts of those waiting to serve.
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