MAVINI is a way around the normal requirements for joining the United States military. Normally only citizens or green card holders can join the military. MAVINI both allows non-citizens living in the United States of America to join the military and get on the fast track to citizenship. This is slightly different from Section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Section 329, which is the policy that allows the MAVINI program to happen, states that during times of conflict military enlistment is eased and non-citizens serving in the military for the United States have an easier time becoming a citizen. This happened during both World Wars, Vietnam, and has been happening ever since 9/11. This doesn’t mean that undocumented immigrants can automatically join up, but it does make it easier for non-citizens serving in the military to become a citizen, MAVINI just takes it one step further.
MAVINI specifically allows deferred action non-citizens to join the military and puts them on the fast track to citizenship. A person with a deferred action status means they have a stay from deportation, that they are legally present in the USA, but are not legal residents of the country. Deferred action has been given to a lot of children of illegal aliens who grew up in the United States. MAVINI allows for people with a deferred action to join the military, but only if they apply and meet the right requirements.
First off, MAVINI has been suspended for the time being, but it’s expected to start back up again soon. Second, the program only reviews 1,500 applicants per year. The program is only looking for highly skilled applicants, such as doctors and translators. Only a few dozen applicants are expected to be accepted, making the chances of gaining citizenship through the MAVINI program very small. On top of that, the applicant needs to serve in the military and still be expected to understand United States history, policy, and civics.
Overall, MAVINI is not a reliable way to gain citizenship, even when it is re-instituted in the future. If you are seeking citizenship, continue on the path you are on right now. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact an expert immigration attorney for legal consultation and to help you through the paperwork. However, if you think you might qualify, keep an eye out in the news for the re-institution date for MAVINI and get your application prepared now, just don’t leave that as your only option.