After a months-long hiatus, a special immigration program designed to attract recruits with certain skills will be up and running once more in the next several weeks.
Attorney Margaret Stock, an immigration lawyer and retired Army lieutenant colonel, said on Monday that the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or MAVNI, program could resume before the end of the year, but certainly in January.
There has not yet been an announcement from the Defense Department.
"I heard about it from some folks at the Pentagon. There's no public USAREC [U.S. Army Recruiting Command] message yet," Stock said.
The program stalled in late September after President Obama's executive order on immigration opened up MAVNI to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. According to Stock, the Defense Department is now on track to resume processing applications under MAVNI.
"DoD has set the overall fiscal year quota for MAVNI at 1,500, and the Army has been allocated 1,300 slots for now," Stock wrote on the blog for Alaska-based law firm, Cascadia Cross Border Law Group. She does not know if the other services will utilize the program, noting that in 2013 the Air Force recruited only two people under MAVNI, both enlisted and brought in for their language skills.
The Navy recruited one doctor under the program in 2009, when it began.
Most MAVNI applicants have been doctors who enlist in the Army Reserve and receive an officer's commission once they attained their U.S. citizenship. Foreign nationals who come in under MAVNI do not have to apply for a green card and their citizenship process is expedited.
Some already in the Army now have to fight to keep their dependents in the U.S. with them. That's because U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services decided it would no longer automatically grant spouses or children green cards once the service member became a citizen.
The agency said the dependents must return to their home country and apply to come to the U.S. after two years, a policy that that will force military families apart, Stock said.
Stock, who designed and successfully sold the Defense Department on the program about six years ago, said the Army will look to recruit 130 doctors. Another 100 critical language speakers will be recruited to the Army Reserve. The active-duty Army plans to recruit 1,070 enlisted soldiers who speak languages that are in short supply, as well, including Korean, Chinese, Tagalog, Russian and Portuguese, among others.
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