In a previous blog, I discussed changes to the vetting requirements for service members in the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program. Those changes essentially require service members to pass screening requirements that are similar to those for top secret security clearance.
Introduced in 2009, the MAVNI program allows non-immigrants who have vital language and medical skills to enter the U.S. military in exchange for a faster route to citizenship. The contracts of MAVNI program enlistees allow them to apply for citizenship when they begin training but require them to agree to eight years of military service.
According to The Washington Post, the new vetting requirements led to the Department of Defense blocking citizenship applications from about 2,000 U.S. Army Reserve soldiers. However, U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle on Oct. 25 ordered the DoD not to block those applications while a lawsuit over the MAVNI program is ongoing.
Although the future of the MAVNI program remains to be seen, there’s no question that U.S. immigration laws have become stricter under the Trump Administration, and there’s no sign that immigration enforcement will loosen up any time soon. If you are facing an immigration crisis or if you would like to become a naturalized U.S. citizen, contact my office to discuss your situation. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey green card attorney from the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
Lawsuit Will Move Forward but Citizenship Applications Cannot Be Blocked
In her preliminary injunction, Judge Huvelle said that the lawsuit can move forward, but in the meantime, the government cannot block citizenship applications for the three named Army plaintiffs and other service members who are in similar situations. Huvelle went on to say that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit will most likely succeed in proving that the recent crackdown on recruits is “arbitrary and capricious.”
Officials at the DoD contend that foreign-born recruits participating in the expedited citizenship program pose “espionage potential,” but advocates argue that MAVNI recruits provide essential skills that are needed in ongoing conflicts.
The plaintiffs in this case and recruits who are in similar situations are now living in fear that they could lose their student or work visas or be deported or discharged. They are also concerned that, if deported, they would face harsh punishment in their home countries for joining the U.S. military.
Before the new vetting requirements were introduced, it usually took the Pentagon only one day to approve N-426 form requests that certify the Selected Reserve or active-duty status of qualified MAVNI enlistees. But the application process has become far more complicated and drawn-out thanks to the new screening requirements.
If you would like to become a naturalized U.S. citizen but you are worried that recent changes to U.S. immigration laws will affect your eligibility, contact my office to discuss your situation. Call 973-453-2009 to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey immigration lawyer.