Department of Defense restricts LPR ability to join the Armed Services and eligibility for expedited naturalization for military service

Submitted by micol on Fri, 12/01/2017 - 12:50

On October 13, 2017, the U.S. Department of Defense significantly changed the process under which a legal permanent resident ("LPR" or "green card holder") can join any branch of the U.S. military. Effective immediately, an LPR seeking to join the Armed Services must first "complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military security suitability determination (MSSD) prior to entry in the active, reserve, or guard service." Also effective immediately, LPRs serving in the armed forces must "complete all security and suitability screening requirements and receive a favorable MSSD, complete the initial military training requirements of the service of which they are a member, and complete at least 180 consecutive days of active duty service, or at least one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve before being eligible for expedited naturalization." Those who may have received a certification of honorable service prior to the completion of all security and suitability screening requirements will have that certification recalled and decertified until, at a minimum, screening requirements are complete.  Previously, LPR service men and women could apply for naturalization after just one day of active duty.  In related news, the Washington Post has reported recently about significant delays with processing applicants to the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest ("MAVNI") program, which allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the U.S. to join the U.S. military and apply for U.S. citizenship immediately - without first having to obtain lawful permanent residence.
Immigration attorneys who specialize in military issues have expressed dismay and significant legal concerns over these recent changes of policy that have recruited thousands of eligible women and men into our armed services. Regarding the MAVNI program two class action lawsuits have begun to make their way through the federal courts.  We will post any news or updates on these matters on our website in the coming months.


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