Last week, new rules were issued that affect the MAVNI program and who is eligible to apply. MAVNI, short for Military Accessions in the National Interest, is a special program that allows non-US citizens, even those who are not yet permanent residents, to enlist in the US military if they have special language or health care skills in demand by the government. Enrollment is limited to 1500 recruits a year, so this is not a broad based program. Nevertheless, what makes last week’s news of interest to those without legal permanent resident status is that DACA grantees-those approved under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals-are now eligible to apply for acceptance into the program. The caveat, of course, aside from the cap of 1500 (which is minuscule) is that the individual must not only have an approved application but more importantly, the individual must possess the necessary skills that would qualify him/her for consideration under MAVNI. At this point, it is not clear whether this is an empty gesture by the Obama administration or something of great utility to those who wish to serve this country but who lack legal status through no fault of their own, such as DACA recipients who entered the country as minors and have since fallen out of status but have managed to obtain high-school level education degrees and maintain a clean record. In fact, some believe that only a handful of DACA people will benefit from this. Even so, those who have a desire to benefit this country and are lucky enough to get accepted into the program may find themselves in a unique position of being able to apply for naturalization through military service. This avenue would actually allow them to bypass permanent residence entirely and apply to become citizens of the United States. For more information on the MAVNI program, check out this slide we recently prepared.
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