In the past, joining the military was part of a long tradition dating back to the Revolutionary War. It was also one of the faster paths to citizenship. Immigrants who were eligible could enlist, initiate a background check, start basic training, and serve for just one day. Then, they could apply.
But, the Trump Administration’s policies continue to make problems for immigrants. Now, a maze of red tape makes it difficult for enlistees to meet the requirements.
“Under the new policy, enlistees do not go to basic training until their background investigation is complete, and they have to complete basic training and 180 days of service before they can seek citizenship. Other changes appeared procedural but had deep impact, such as the change that only higher-ranking officers, at colonel or above, were authorized to sign key UCIS forms verifying an enlistee had served honorably. The signatures had to be original, too, which made it much more difficult for troops in outlier areas where the nearest colonel or higher-ranking officer may be hundreds of miles away.” –Task & Purpose
Some enlistees find themselves getting the run-around even after they complete the requirements. As a result, fewer enlistees are even attempting to apply.
Note that becoming eligible to enlist can come with its own set of hoops to jump through. Most who enlist are lawful permanent residents. Some are nationals of either the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau. Some can get in through the MAVNI program, if they have specialized skills that branch of the military needs and wants.
For the time being, the military can still serve as a faster way to get a green card. But if you’re thinking about attempting to enter the MAVNI program, exercise caution. There are no guarantees, and in some cases the government has dragged its feet on completing the necessary background checks.
This isn’t even the worst news. Foreign-born vets who have been honorably discharged could still be deported if they get arrested. Note that getting arrested is not the same as committing a crime, or being convicted of one. Police officers can find all kinds of reasons to arrest people.
Many of these deportees lose much-needed medical care. Many are also forced to leave their families behind.
Most of the deportees do not have immigration attorneys to represent them. All this news tells you that if you are not currently a citizen of the United States you need one on your side.
And you should not assume completing a long term of military service means you gained automatic citizenship. The process was more complex even before these changes were made.
Are you trying to navigate the citizenship process? Don’t try to do it alone. Contact Hykel Law to schedule a consultation today.