MAVNI program offers immigrants with special skills expedited U.S. citizenship through military service
Questions related to MAVNI
Phone: 1-888-550-2769 (in the US).
The online contact form for MAVNI (in the US or internationally):
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In September 2012, the U.S. Secretary of Defense authorized the military services to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered to be vital to the national interest. The program, known as MAVNI, is only open to those with critical skills in specific medical fields or who are experts in certain foreign languages. Recruits are normally awarded U.S. citizenship by the end of their 10-week basic training, entirely bypassing the permanent residence process. MAVNI will remain open through May 15, 2014 but will be restricted to only 1,500 recruits per year.
The applicant must be in one of the following categories at the time of enlistment:
- E, F, H, I , J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U or V nonimmigrant categories
- Asylee, refugee, or Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
He or she must have resided in the U.S. for at least two years prior to enlistment with no single absence of more than 90 days. Those who have a pending adjustment of status to lawful permanent residences may apply.
All applicants must meet general eligibility criteria for enlisting in the armed services. Health care professionals must pass an oral proficiency interview in English, while language and culture specialists must pass a similar interview in their native language. Those who entered the U.S. illegally, overstayed a legal visa, or have a history of felony are excluded.
Health care professionals
Applicants are being sought for specific medical specialties where the services have a shortfall, including:
- General dentists, oral surgeons, comprehensive dentists and prosthodontists
- Pediatricians, internists and family practitioners
- General surgeons, thoracic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and anesthetists
- Preventive medicine specialists, urologists, ophthalmologists and otolaryngologists
- Psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical psychologists and licensed clinical social workers
- Specialists in emergency medicine, nuclear science and entomology
- Nurse anesthetists and physician assistants
Individuals in these specialties must commit to at least 3 years of active duty or 6 years in the military reserves. (Italicized specialties are open only to those willing to serve at least 6 years in the military reserves).
Experts in foreign language and culture
The military is enlisting soldiers into active duty with language and culture skills in one of 44 strategic languages:
- Albanian, Czech, Georgian, Portuguese, Russian or Serbo-Croatian
- Amharic, Moro or Somali
- Arabic, Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Pashto, Persian Dari, Persian Farsi, Tajik, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu (with Pakistani or Afghani citizenship) or Uzbek
- Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Sindhi, Nepalese, Malayalam, Sinhalese or Tamil
- Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Lao, Thai
- Cebuano, Malay, Indonesian or Tagalog
- Chinese or Korean
- French (with African citizenship), Haitian Creole, Hausa, Igbo, Swahili or Yoruba
(Positions for individuals fluent in the Italicized languages are capped at 60 per year). All language and culture specialists must commit to at least 4 years of active duty.After a person enlists in the military, there is always a chance that they may be discharged. For instance, they could be injured at Basic Training, or may not be able to successfully complete training. A recruit who is discharged prior to becoming a citizen will no longer have legal immigration status. If they cannot obtain another visa, they may be required to leave the U.S. This is a risk that all applicants must take when entering the program.
MAVNI and immigration status
Once a person has enlisted in MAVNI, he no longer has “nonimmigrant intent”. If he leaves the U.S. before going to Basic Training, he will not be able to re-enter the U.S. on any temporary status. There is nothing the military authorities can do to assist that person in returning to the U.S. legally. However, once a MAVNI enlistee he has obtained U.S. citizenship and a U.S. passport, he may travel freely.
If the enlistee has family members in a dependent immigration status, they unfortunately fall into a “grey area” until Basic Training has been completed. However, it is not the intention of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its subsidiary organizations to deport the dependents of MAVNI soldiers. The military and DHS are working closely together to ensure that these dependents are safe from deportation during this brief period.
When the enlistee becomes a citizen, he or she may help any dependents obtain permanent residence through normal family-based immigration procedures. Citizenship is not acquired automatically by the dependents.
It is important to note that dependents who are in the U.S. illegally or have otherwise broken the law may be subject to arrest or deportation despite their relationship to the MAVNI soldier. The military recommends that potential applicants consult with an experienced immigration attorney if they have concerns about vulnerable dependents not under MAVNI.