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Immigration Benefits for Military Personnel and Family Members

On Behalf of | Nov 17, 2014 | Firm News

In recognition of Veterans Day last week, Wilson Law Group would like to send a reminder of important benefits available to certain members of the military and family of service members.

MAVNI – Direct Path to U.S. Citizenship

MAVNI stands for “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest.” MAVNI may be a quick path to U.S. citizenship for certain eligible foreign nations because it skips the permanent residency (“green card”) process altogether.

The MAVNI program started as a pilot program to allow certain branches of the U.S. military to recruit and enlist foreign nationals with skills that are of “vital to national interest” and critical to military services.  This includes certain health care professionals and foreign nationals who are fluent in certain languages.  The MAVNI program was recently extended through 2016.

There are various requirements to be eligible for U.S. citizenship under the MAVNI program, including lawful status in the U.S. at the time of enlistment and lawful status for at least two years prior to the enlistment date.  Lawful status includes asylee, refugee, and Temporary Protected Status amongst other nonimmigrant categories (e.g. H, L, J, E, F, O, and P).

Designated languages include the following:

  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengali
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian-Khmer
  • Cebuano
  • Chinese
  • Czech
  • French (if possesses citizenship from an African country)
  • Haitian-Creole
  • Hausa
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Igbo
  • Indonesian
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Lao
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
  • Moro
  • Nepalese
  • Persian [Dari & Farsi]
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Pushtu (aka Pashto)
  • Russian
  • Serbo-Croatian
  • Sindhi
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Tajik
  • Tamil
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Turkmen
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Yoruba

The MAVNI program was recently placed on hold, however, while the administration reviews screening procedures for individuals interested in enlisting in the program.  The decision to hold applications came after the government’s decision to allow DACA recipients into the program.

Wilson Law Group will be monitoring developments with respect to the MAVNI program, and is hopeful that the government will commence processing applications under the program soon.

Special Naturalization Provisions

Members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces may also be eligible to apply for naturalization under special provisions of the immigration laws.

Generally, applicants must meet certain requirements in order to apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen, including an age requirement, continuous residence and physical presence requirements, good moral character, and knowledge of English language and U.S. history.  Some of these requirements may not apply, however, if you are a member of the military.

For example, the continuous residency and physical presence requirements may be waived for time spent abroad in military service.  Also, time spent outside the U.S. by spouses and children of members of the Armed Forces who resided with their military spouse/parent is considered time spent in the United States for residency and physical presence purposes for naturalization.

You also may be eligible for expedited naturalization if you are married to a United States citizen service member who is (or will be) deployed outside the U.S. for one year or more.

The government also offers naturalization interviews and ceremonies abroad at certain U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and military installations.

There are also other important benefits for certain military personnel and family, including parole of spouses, children, and parents of Armed Forces personnel (current and past), which can allow otherwise eligible foreign nationals to ultimately adjust their status to permanent residents even if they entered the country without inspection.  This is called Parole in Place.

To learn about whether you or a loved one may be eligible for an immigration benefit based on military service or as family of a military member, please contact Wilson Law Group at 612-430-8022 or via web to schedule a free consultation with one of our immigration attorneys.