The Department of Defense (DOD) reinstated the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest pilot program (MAVNI) on May 16, 2012. The reinstatement will extend recruiting of certain non-resident aliens for vital personnel positions for another two years.
In 2009, the DOD initiated the MAVNI program to meet a growing demand for selective health care and linguistic professionals in the military services. The program was extended in 2010, but expired on December 31, 2011. The DOD did not resume recruiting under the program until May 16, 2012.
MAVNI allows different branches of the military to recruit a certain number of non-resident aliens based on need until either the program expires or until the need is fulfilled. The Marine Corps and Air Force currently have a need of 125 Health Care Professionals or Enlisted with Language/Culture), while the Army may recruit up to 1,000 non-resident aliens under MAVNI. The type of health care professionals being considered for recruitment depends on current shortfalls in each of the service branches. Needed language and cultural expertise is limited to a certain list of languages and cultures.
Non-resident aliens eligible to enlist pursuant to MAVNI include the following: Asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status, or nonimmigrant categories such as E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V. A non-resident alien “must have been in valid status in one of those categories for at least the 2 years immediately prior to the enlistment date.” While an alien who has been in more than one of the listed categories in the last 2 years is eligible, the alien may not have been outside of the United States for more than 90 days within the last 2 years immediately preceding enlistment. A non-resident alien may also be eligible even if she has an adjustment of status to permanent residence (green card) pending with the Department of Homeland Security. On a case-by-case basis, a non-resident alien previously in H status with a pending adjustment, who has lost such status since the adjustment application was filed, may also be considered for enlistment under MAVNI.
Non-resident aliens enlisted under the MAVNI program may qualify for a streamlined citizenship process. During times of national need, enlisted non-resident aliens may apply for expedited citizenship. "Since September 11, 2001, nearly 43,000 members of the Armed Forces have attained their citizenship while serving this nation."
The MAVNI program arises from a tradition of non-citizens serving the United States since the Revolutionary War. Different congressional acts and agreements in times of national need over the last 100 years, such as the Lodge Act of 1950 and the Military Bases Agreement of 1947, have provided opportunities for a limited number of non-citizen and non-resident aliens to obtain early citizenship through service to the United States.