Are You Qualified for Citizenship Through MAVNI? (The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program)
May is designated as National Military Appreciation Month to recognize and honor all U.S. service members. U.S. non-citizens born in American Samoa and Swains Island and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces and be appointed as officers. The MAVNI program (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest Program) was authorized by the Department of Defense (DOD) in 2008 as a recruitment program meant for immigrants and non-immigrants who want to join the U.S. military service.
MAVNI allows the U.S. military to recruit some non-citizens who are lawfully present in the United States and whose medical skills and language expertise are vital to the national interest. Qualified MANVI applicants have to at the time of enlistment be:
- holders of Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
- beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy
- certain other nonimmigrant categories
Citizenship for U.S. Military Members
Military service members make substantial sacrifices to protect U.S. soil. U.S. immigration law offers military members certain benefits for their service, including assisting foreign-born active and former military members to become U.S. citizens. To apply to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, a lawful permanent resident must have lived in the United States for five years, or three years in some cases, be fluent in English and want to make the United States their permanent home.
The naturalization process can take a long time, and there are many steps to prepare for naturalization, which include:
• Evaluation of citizenship eligibility
• Overcoming any barriers to ineligibility
• File USCIS Form N-400
• Get fingerprinted and other biometric requirements
• Attend a citizenship interview
• Attend an oath ceremony where you are granted U.S. citizenship and say the Pledge of Allegiance
• Good moral character is a requirement for citizenship and is considered by immigration officers for immigration applications.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) exempts members of the military and former service members from some of the citizenship requirements:
- Non-citizen current or former service members may be exempt from the requirement for five years of continuous U.S. residence.
- Non-citizens are not required to pay naturalization fees.
- The provision prohibiting the naturalization of a person in removal proceedings for certain current and former service members may be waived.
Are You In the Military and Want to Become a U.S. Citizen?
Military service members who need help applying for citizenship and other benefits for their families should seek guidance from an experienced immigration and naturalization attorney. The immigration attorneys at Godoy Law Office in Chicago and Oak Brook, Illinois can help you with your immigration case. If you need help with an immigration issue, please contact our office or call us at 630-912-0322.