The Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) is a small, exclusive program that allows foreign nationals to gain expedited citizenship in exchange for military service. Typically, all of the United States military branches require enlistees to be permanent residents of the United States, green card holders, but the MAVNI program allows certain non-immigrants with special health care and language skills to join the military and be eligible for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining a green card.
The program began as a pilot in 2009 and was amended in September of 2016 with additional security reviews and screenings. The additional security measures have effectively placed the MAVNI program on hold and have created uncertainty among future and current MAVNI enlistees about the program’s future.
To qualify for the MAVNI program a foreign national, at the time of enlistment, must:
(1) Be a refugee, asylee, of temporary protected statutes, or be a member of one of the nonimmigrant categories (E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V);
(2) Have been in one of the above valid status for at least two years, however, it does not have to be the same category as the one held at the time of enlistment;
3) Not have a single absence of more than 90 days from the U.S. during that two year period; and
(4) Be a healthcare professional or expert in key languages.
The MAVNI program is open to individuals who have been granted deferred action by the Department of Homeland Security pursuant to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) process. Their applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Special Skills
To qualify for the MAVNI program a foreign national must be a member of the health care profession or be an expert in a key language. A healthcare applicant must:
(1) Fill medical specialties where the service has a shortfall;
(2) Meet all qualification criteria required for their medical specialty, and the criteria for foreign-trained Defense Department medical personnel recruited under other authorities;
(3) Demonstrate proficiency in English; and
(4) Commit to at least three years of active duty, or six years in the Selected Reserve.
Applicants who are an expert in a key language must:
(1) Possess specific language and culture capabilities in a language critical to the United States Defense Department (full list of languages here);
(2) Demonstrate a language proficiency;
(3) Meet all existing enlistment eligibility criteria; and
(4) Enlist for at least four years of active duty.