MAVNI or the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program has again authorized the military services to recruit foreign immigrants waiting for their U.S. citizenship particularly those men and women possessing language skills in any of the 44 strategic languages, such as Russian, Korean, Farsi, Chinese, Arabic, Thai, Lao, Burmese and Chinese. They are also going to recruit immigrants with specific health care specialties that are in short supply, like nurse anesthetists, internists, pediatricians, dentists, surgeons and those skilled in preventive medicine and emergency services.
The program started as a one-year pilot program in 2009 with a 1,000 recruitment target. It was re-started in September 2012, which allowed the military to recruit foreign nationals in the United States that were considered legal aliens who had skills that were deemed vital to the interest of the country. The number of recruits had been increased to 1,500 each year. The recruitment program was limited to those possessing critical skills in specific medical fields as well as those who are experts in specific languages. The program was beneficial to those immigrants waiting for their green card since the recruits were awarded expedited U.S. citizenship after their basic training that lasted for 10 weeks. They must pass the eligibility requirements and undergo a security background check. Recruits have a service commitment of at least three years of active duty. They could serve the military for six years if they choose to be in the reserves.
The program was put on hold last September as the U.S. Defense Department reviewed how the new immigration order of President Obama will affect the recruitment program. MAVNI recruited foreign nationals that are already staying legally in the United States while the new executive order of the president extended to undocumented immigrants who fall under the eligibility requirements of the DACA.
The current re-instatement of the program will include the DACA and will be of great benefit to those who are under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and foreign nationals on F-1, J-1, H-1B, H-4, L-2 and E-2 visas.
Majority of the recruits under the MAVNI program so far were doctors who enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve. They obtained an officer’s commission after their U.S. citizenship had been granted.
According to the Pentagon, the military had already recruited more than 2,900 foreign nationals and most of them are going to the Army either as translators or medical personnel. Under the program, the annual limit is divided into 130 doctors and 100 speakers of critical foreign languages that will be sent to the Army Reserve while the rest will be active duty enlisted soldiers who are experts in several foreign languages.
A new memorandum was signed by Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Jessica Wright last month, which extends the MAVNI program until the end of the 2016 fiscal year.