Category Archives: Military / Armed Services

DHS and TSA testing relaxed airport travel procedures for DOD personnel

1/4/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — President Barack Obama signed a bill into law Jan. 3 to streamline airport screening procedures for service members and their families traveling on official orders.

The Risk-based Security Screening for Members of the Armed Forces Act gives the Transportation Security Administration six months to develop and implement a plan to expedite screening services for service members on orders and in uniform and, “to the extent possible, any accompanying family member.”

The act, in part, calls for the agency to establish standard guidelines for the screening of military uniform items, such as combat boots.

In a statement released Jan. 4, agency officials said they’re in the process of reviewing options for these new procedures in consultation with the Defense Department.

Even before this law, the agency had several measures in place to aid troops through the screening process. For example, troops in uniform with a military identification card aren’t required to remove their boots or shoes unless they set off an alarm, according to the agency’s website.

The agency also seeks to accommodate family members. Families who would like to accompany a deploying service member to the boarding gate or greet them upon their return may receive passes to enter the secure area of the airport, the site said. Family members, agency officials advise, should contact their air carrier representative at the airport for local procedures.

The agency also expedites the screening process for Honor Flight veterans, and partners with the Defense Department to expedite screening for wounded warriors and their families. The Honor Flight Network organization transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their war memorials.

Also aimed at expediting screening procedures, the agency is testing a new program at the airport in Monterey, Calif. In mid-November, troops traveling out of Monterey Peninsula Airport began presenting their DOD identification to a document checker for card-reader scanning.

The pilot program is designed to test the technology to verify service members’ status. If successful, it could pave the way for service members to be included in the agency’s expedited screening program, agency officials said, enabling them to use special lanes at participating airports to pass more quickly through airport security. These expedited procedures could involve not having to remove their shoes, belt and jackets or their laptops from bags.

Programs such as this one strengthen security, officials said, explaining that separating out low-risk people, such as members of the armed forces, allows the agency to focus its resources on travelers who present a higher risk.

(Tonya Townsell of the Presidio of Monterey public affairs office contributed to this article.)

U.S. Army Institutes New Non-Citizen Recruiting Program For Foreign Healthcare Professionals

This year, in February, the U.S. Army started a new recruiting pilot program for foreign healthcare professionals. Titled “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest” (“MAVNI”), the new pilot program allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the United States to join the Army and apply immediately for expedited U.S. citizenship, without first obtaining lawful permanent residence.

MAVNI will initially recruit about 300 healthcare professionals (doctors, dentists, psychiatrists, nurses, and others) nationwide. Aside from the healthcare workers, MAVNI is set to recruit about 500 persons who speak certain critical foreign languages.

The MAVNI pilot program is scheduled to end on December 31, 2009, or whenever the Army meets its projected recruiting needs.

MAVNI allows certain non-citizens who are already legally present in the United States to enlist. The Office of the Secretary of Defense set the immigration eligibility criteria for the program. Anyone who currently holds asylee, refugee, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or one of numerous non-immigrant statuses (E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V) may be eligible.

A non-citizen must have held one of those legal statuses for at least two years; having changed between these statuses during the two-year period will not bar enlistment. In addition, if the person holds a non-immigrant status (E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V), he or she cannot have had a single absence from the United States of more than 90 days in the past two years (multiple absences are apparently fine, as long as no single trip exceeded 90 days).

Persons whose status is not listed in the eligibility criteria cannot enlist under this pilot program. Thus, those holding B visa or other visitor status—including those who entered on the Visa Waiver Program—are not eligible. Undocumented immigrants, non-citizens in overstay, and those who have violated their status are not eligible.

MAVNI applicants need not be Lawful Permanent Residents (aka “Green Card” holders) prior to naturalizing under this Pilot Program.  Under current provisions of the wartime military enlistment statute, anyone serving honorably in the United States Armed Forces is eligible to naturalize, regardless of immigration status. Wartime military naturalization applicants pay no fees for filing their naturalization applications. No minimum period of honorable service is required prior to filing for wartime naturalization, and applicants are exempt from the residency and physical presence requirements that apply to other naturalization applicants.

Persons interested in MAVNI, should contact their local U.S. Army Recruiter for more details.

MAVNI enlistees are not ordinarily eligible for U.S. citizenship under the regular naturalization statutes; because they do not have Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) status, they are only eligible to apply for US citizenship under the wartime military naturalization statute. This statute allows for revocation of U.S. citizenship if the enlistee does not complete five (5) years of honorable military service.

Health Care Professionals:

  • Applicants must fill medical specialties where the service has a shortfall
  • Applicants must meet all qualification criteria required for their medical specialty, and
  • the criteria for foreign-trained DoD medical personnel recruited under other authorities

  • Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in English
  • Applicants must commit to at least 3 years of active duty, or six years in the Selected Reserve

Professional Medical Specialties To Be Recruited Under the Army MAVNI Pilot Program

Regular Army Medical Corps
60P Pediatrician
60W Psychiatrist
61F Internal Medicine
61H Family Practice

Dental Corps
63A General Dentist
63M Oral Surgeon

Nurse Corps
Army Nurses: All specialties

Army Reserve Medical Corps
60C Preventive Medicine
60J Obstetrician/Gynecologist
60K Urologist
60N Anesthesiologist
60S Ophthalmologist
60T Otolaryngologist
60W Psychiatry
61G Infectious Disease Officer
61F Internal Medicine
61H Family Practice
61J General Surgeon
61K Thoracic Surgeon
61M Orthopedic Surgeon
61Z Neurosurgeon
62A Emergency Medicine
61L Plastic Surgeon

Dental Corps
63A General Dentistv 63F Prosthodontist
63B Comprehensive Dentist
63N Oral Surgeon

Nurse Corps
66H Medical Surgical Nurse
66H8A Critical Care Nurse
66F Nurse Anesthetist
66E Operating Room Nurse
66N Generalist Nurse

Specialist and Medical Service Corps
65D Physician Assistant
72A Nuclear Medicine
67F Optometry
72B Entomology
71A Microbiology
73B Clinical Psychologist
71E Clinical Laboratory
64A Veterinarian

Enlisted Individuals with Special Language and Culture Backgrounds:

  • Applicants must possess specific language and culture capabilities in a language critical to DoD
  • Applicants must demonstrate a language proficiency (see below)
  • Applicants must meet all existing enlistment eligibility criteria
  • Applicants must enlist for at least 4 years of active duty

(Services may add additional requirements)

Enlisted Army Military Occupational Health Care Specialties Available to MAVNI Enlistees with Language Skills

68A Biomedical Equipment Repairer
68D Operating Room Specialist
68E Dental Specialist
68G Patient Administration Specialist
68H Optical Laboratory Specialist
68J Medical Logistics Specialist
68K Medical Laboratory Specialist
68M Nutrition Care Specialist
68P Radiology Specialist
68Q Pharmacy Specialist
68R Veterinary Food Inspection Specialist
68S Preventive Medicine Specialist
68T Animal Care Specialist
68V Respiratory Specialist
68W Health Care Specialit
68W1 Combat Medic

Languages Specifically Sought

  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengali
  • Burmese
  • Cambodian-Khmer
  • Chinese
  • Czech
  • Hausa
  • Hindi
  • Hungarian
  • Igbo
  • Indonesian
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Lao
  • Malay
  • Malayalam
  • Moro
  • Nepalese
  • Persian [Dari & Farsi]
  • Polish
  • Punjabi
  • Pushtu (aka Pashto)
  • Russian
  • Sindhi
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Swahili
  • Tamil
  • Turkish
  • Turkmen
  • Urdu
  • Yoruba

Update and Guidance on Naturalizations for U.S. Service Members

Just earlier this month, USCIS issued some internal guidance on the Naturalization of service members of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The special naturalization provisions are essentially governed by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.

These amendments provide certain immigration benefits for any qualifying spouse or child of a member of the Armed Forces. Primarily, the amendments loosen the requirements of “continuous residence” and “physical presence” in the United States where a spouse or child of a member of the Armed
Forces is involved, accompanying and residing with the service member.

Under certain conditions, a spouse or child may count time residing abroad with the service member as residence and physical presence in the United States.  This legislation also prescribes that such a spouse or child may be eligible for overseas proceedings relating to naturalization, as previously only permitted for an eligible member of the Armed Forces.

In general, “continuous residence” concerns the maintenance of the applicant’s residence in the United States over a period of time required by a statute, where “residence” is determined by the applicant’s principal actual dwelling place in the United States.

“Physical presence” refers to the number of days the person must physically be in the United States.  Unless specifically exempt, an applicant for naturalization must generally satisfy both “continuous residence” and “physical presence” requirements and must have resided in the State or USCIS district having jurisdiction over his or her place of residence for a minimum of 90 days preceding the filing of the application.

In the context of this Act, the required period of continuous residence within the United States is reduced from five years to three years and accordingly the required period of physical presence is reduced from 30 months to 18 months for any LPR who is the spouse of a U.S.  citizen.

There is no requirement of any prior period of residence or specified period of physical presence within the United States for any LPR spouse of a U.S. citizen who is an employee of the United States Government (including a member of the Armed Forces) or recognized nonprofit organization who is stationed abroad in such employment for at least one year.

Essentially, this Act, extends naturalization benefits available to Service Members to their dependents, including spouses and children.

Military Personnel Exempt from Inspection by CBP

U.S. immigration law provides for the examination of all persons seeking to enter the U.S. by an immigration officer (CBP), at a port of entry. Once determined not to be a U.S. citizen, the applicant will be inspected as an “Alien”. There are, however, certain classes of aliens who are specifically exempt inspection and may not be excluded from the United States.

Members of U.S. Armed Forces.
Alien members of the U.S. military forces entering under official orders are exempt from immigration controls, including the requirement to present a passport and visa. Such persons returning to the U.S. after a temporary trip are also eligible for this exemption without presenting any official orders. However, if found inadmissible for any reason, the applicant will be so advised and permitted to enter without controls.

Members of NATO Armed Forces.
The Agreement Between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty Regarding the Status of Their Forces (commonly referred to as the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA) entered into force on August 23, 1953. SOFA, NATO military personnel are normally exempt from inspection and control procedures and, until recently, a Form I-94 was not issued. Such persons enter the United States upon presentation of military identification and official travel orders.

Countries currently party to the SOFA are: Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States.

NATO aliens are exempt from inspection, but may be screened to confirm identity. NATO military personnel stationed in the United States for a significant period of time (over 6 months) need a Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, for “quality of life” reasons, such as to secure a social security number or a state-issued driver’s license.

To ensure that these persons routinely receive a Form I-94 at the time of inspection, the Department of State has recommended that NATO military personnel entering the United States for a significant period of time be issued a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Accordingly, although not required under the NATO SOFA, inspectors should anticipate that NATO military personnel stationed in the United States for a significant period may present a visa at the time of inspection so that a Form I-94 may be issued.

A NATO military nonimmigrant who is an applicant for admission and intends to remain in the United States for a significant period of time and who does not have a visa may present a letter concerning the nature of the intended stay in the United States so that Service inspectors have a basis for issuing a Form I-94. Such a letter must include a specific and concrete explanation of the nature, location, and duration of the NATO member’s stay in the United States, a request for a Form I-94 and the signature of the NATO country commander or designee in the United States where the alien is to reside for a significant period of time. The Form I-94 should be issued for the length of stay as specified in the individual’s military orders. Form I-193 and fee are not required for such NATO military nonimmigrants.

Part Two — Issues for Green Card Holders returning to the U.S. from abroad

This second installment continues and concludes the previous post on the typical types of issues Green Card holders can (and often do) face when returning to the U.S. from abroad.

Conditional Residents.
A conditional resident is admissible if applying before the second anniversary of admission for conditional residence. The conditional resident may also be admissible if he or she has a boarding letter
from a U.S. consulate, has been stationed abroad under government civilian military orders, or is the spouse or child of a person stationed abroad under government orders.

Otherwise, the applicant for admission as a conditional resident must have filed a joint petition or an application for waiver, Form I-751 (marriage-based cases) or Form I-829 (investment-based cases), in the U.S. within the 90 days before the second anniversary but not more than 6 months prior to the application for entry.

If none of those conditions exist, the inspector may defer the applicant to file Form I-751 or I-829 if there is reason to believe the Service will approve a petition or waiver. If the applicant is not admissible, CBP has authority to place him or her in removal proceedings.

Question of “Meaningful Departure”.
When examining a Green Card holder who has spent significant time abroad (usually more than six months), when there is a question as to whether the LPR may have abandoned his/her U.S. residence, the CBP inspector has to evaluate the situation and make a determination as to the LPR’s intent and the nature and reason for the prolonged absence from the United States.

Prior to 1997, if a lawful permanent resident was believed to be inadmissible, immigration inspectors had to first make a determination whether his/her absence was “meaningfully interruptive” of permanent residence. Later revisions to immigration laws have formalized a ‘test’ for immigration inspectors to apply in this situation.

Under this test, a lawful permanent resident is NOT considered to be seeking admission unless the alien:

• has abandoned or relinquished that status;
• has been absent continuously for more than 180 days;
• has engaged in illegal activity after departing the U.S.;
• has departed under legal process seeking removal;
• has committed certain criminal offenses;
• is attempting entry without inspection; or
• has entered the U.S. without authorization by an immigration officer.

If CBP believes an LPR may be inadmissible or no longer entitled to lawful permanent resident status, CBP should refer the alien for removal proceedings.

Special Rules for Dependents of U.S. Service Members.
The spouse and children of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, or a civilian employee of the U.S. Government (including those paid from non-appropriated funds such as Stars and Stripes or the Army and Air Force Exchange System) returning from a foreign assignment are exempt many normal requirements for returning residents. If a dependent is a conditional resident, and the period of conditional residence has expired, the alien should be admitted and advised to file Form I-751 within 90 days.

Replacing an Arrival/Departure Document

When Should I Use Form I-102? incorrect, lost, stolen or damaged Nonimmigrant Arrival – Departure Document.

As a nonimmigrant visitor to the United States, you should use Form I-102 to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a new or replacement:

  • Receive a corrected Form I-94, I-94W or Form I-95 if you were issued one with incorrect information when you entered as a nonimmigrant or refugee; or to
  • Receive an initial Form I-94 if you were not issued one when you entered as a nonimmigrant, and you are filing this form with an application for extension of stay or change of status; or to
  • Replace your lost, stolen or mutilated Form I-94, I-94W or I-95;
  • Receive an initial Form I-94 if you were not issued one when you were originally admitted into the United States due to your military membership as described below:1. A nonimmigrant member of the U.S. armed forces; or A nonimmigrant member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) armed forces or civilian component; or
    2. A nonimmigrant member of the Partnership for Peace military program under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).

    ADVISORY: Do not use this form to request an action on a Form I-94 issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If you are seeking a new Form I-94 based on a Form I-94 issued at a port-of-entry or otherwise by CBP, you should contact the nearest CBP office or port-of-entry and inquire about their procedures, or visit the CBP’s website at

  • USCIS now Naturalizing military-spouses at its overseas offices.

    In January, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into law. This new law amended portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow certain spouses of members of the military to naturalize overseas where they are stationed.

    Before January 2008, these spouses could only naturalize while physically within the United States.

    Application for U.S. Citizenship by Service Members of the U.S. Armed Forces

    Members and certain veterans of the U.S. armed forces are eligible to apply for United States citizenship under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In addition, USCIS has streamlined the application and naturalization process for military personnel serving on active-duty or recently discharged. Generally, qualifying service is in one of the following branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, certain reserve components of the National Guard and the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.

    A member of the U.S. Armed Forces must meet certain requirements and qualifications to become a citizen of the United States. This includes demonstrating:

    • Good moral character;
    • Knowledge of the English language;
    • Knowledge of U.S. government and history (civics); and
    • Attachment to the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.

    Qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempt from other naturalization requirements, including residency and physical presence in the United States. These exceptions are listed in Sections 328 and 329 of the INA.

    An individual who obtains U.S. citizenship through his or her military service and separates from the military under “other than honorable conditions” before completing five years of honorable service may have his or her citizenship revoked.

    Service in Wartime
    All immigrants who have served honorably on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or as a member of the Selected Ready Reserve on or after September 11, 2001 are eligible to file for immediate citizenship under the special wartime provisions in Section 329 of the INA. This section also covers
    veterans of designated past wars and conflicts.

    Service in Peacetime
    Section 328 of the INA applies to all members of the U.S. Armed Forces or those already discharged from service. An individual may qualify for naturalization if he or she has:

    • Served honorably for at least one year.
    • Obtained lawful permanent resident status.
    • Filed an application while still in the service or within six months of separation.

    Posthumous Benefits
    Section 329A of the INA provides for grants of posthumous citizenship to certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Other provisions of law extend benefits to surviving spouses, children, and parents.

    • A member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served honorably during a designated period of hostilities and dies as a result of injury or disease incurred in, or aggravated by, that service (including death in combat) may receive posthumous citizenship.

    • The service member’s next of kin, the Secretary of Defense, or the Secretary’s designee in USCIS must make this request for posthumous citizenship within two years of the service member’s death.

    • Under section 319(d) of the INA, a spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen who dies while serving honorably in active-duty status in the U.S. Armed Forces, can file for naturalization if the family member meets naturalization requirements other than residency and physical presence.

    • For other immigration purposes, a surviving spouse (unless he or she remarries), child, or parent of a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who served honorably on active duty and died as a result of combat, and was a citizen at the time of death (including a posthumous grant of citizenship) is considered an immediate relative for two years after death and may file a petition for classification
    as an immediate relative during such period. A surviving parent may file a petition even if the deceased service member had not reached age 21.

    How to Apply
    All aspects of the naturalization process, including applications, interviews and ceremonies are available overseas to members of the U.S. Armed Forces. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not charged a fee to file USCIS Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Every military installation has a designated point-of-contact to assist with filing the military naturalization application packet.

    Once complete, the package is sent to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for expedited processing. That package will include:

    • Application for Naturalization (USCIS Form N-400)
    • Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service (USCIS Form N-426)
    • Biographic Information (USCIS Form G-325B)