Immigration Law

Trump DOD Reverses Bush Policy Allowing Expedited Military Naturalizations, All Military Naturalization Applicants Warned to Expect Major Delays

Margaret D. Stock, the creator of MAVNI, states: “Xenophobia has been formally institutionalized at the Pentagon.  Many immigrants who sign enlistment contracts will no longer be able to naturalize through military service, since they must now pass a new “security clearance” process before shipping to training, and that process will take more than a year.  DoD expects 30% of enlistees to “fail” the new background checks, making them ineligible to attend basic training.  They will no longer be allowed to apply to naturalize after shipping out.  DoD has created a new and cumbersome procedure for military naturalization applications that will result in 2-3 year delays before an immigrant will be able to take the oath of naturalization based on military service. USCIS will be unable to accept an immigrant’s application for naturalization until at least 2 years after the immigrant has enlisted (processing will START about two years after initial enlistment). 

Immigrants should expect to experience these significant delays in military naturalization processing immediately.  They should be warned to expect difficulty travelling internationally, sponsoring family members, obtaining visas, getting drivers licenses, and working legally for nonmilitary employers during this waiting period.  Family members’ green card applications will also be adversely affected.

Bottom line: Lawyers should advise immigrants NOT to sign a US Armed Forces Military Enlistment contract unless the immigrants are prepared to endure these delays and disruptions for several years.  Military service in the US Armed Forces no longer offers an expedited path to US citizenship, as of Friday, October 13, 2017.  Military service in the US Armed Forces will also now negatively affect an immigrant’s ability to obtain other US immigration benefits, and to work and travel legally.”

Three new DoD memos are here, here and here.