The Defense Department announced today that it has authorized the military services to implement a pilot program; temporarily permitting enlistment into military service certain legal aliens (who have lived in the United States for at least two years) who hold skills that are critically needed in the military.
The pilot will address health care professionals holding needed medical specialties (physicians and nurses) and people with skills in certain strategic foreign languages and cultures, qualifications important to present and future military operations. A fact sheet detailing the languages and basic requirements is available.
“The services are doing a tremendous job of recruiting quality personnel to meet our various missions,” said Bill Carr, deputy under secretary of defense for military personnel policy. “This pilot seeks to provide yet another opportunity to fill the gaps, with people who are highly qualified and eager to serve this nation.”
The military services will review their requirements and determine the pilot’s efficacy within their service. If they choose to participate, they will provide implementation plans within 45 days. The pilot may recruit up to 1,000 people, and after one year, its value for enhancing military readiness will be evaluated.
Non-citizens have served in the U.S. military since the Revolutionary War. Today about 29,000 non-citizens serve in uniform, and about 8,000 permanent resident aliens (green card holders) enlist each year. This initiative expands non-citizen eligibility for military service to include not only the green card holders, but also those visa holders legally present in the U.S., such as doctors, nurses, and students.
Those volunteering to serve the nation by joining the military during a time of war would be eligible for accelerated citizenship – as are all others who serve in the military – by virtue of the July 3, 2002 executive order which allows expedited naturalization for those non-citizens who serve in our armed forces.