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Immigrants Experiencing Extreme Vetting, Delays While Enrolling in Special Military Program

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Carmen Cornejo
Written by Carmen Cornejo

Our lives as immigrants in the U.S. are highly scrutinized. We get subjected to background checks in order to apply for any immigration benefit, even when it does not involve a path to legalization, such as in the case of young immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Extreme vetting is already taking place in immigration procedures, though this administration has amplified the concept to the point of crashing the system.

The latest example of over-the-top scrutiny are the delays impacting immigrants entering the U.S. Army through MAVNI.

MAVNI (Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest) is a program open to immigrants with special qualifications sought by the military. It allows immigrants to enroll in the armed forces and get a fast track to the naturalization process.

These special qualifications include medical training and fluency in languages from sensitive geopolitical regions.

MAVNI seeks medical specialists including oral surgeons, anesthesiologists, pediatricians, general surgeons, emergency medicine specialists, nuclear medical science officers, psychiatrists, thoracic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, licensed clinical psychologists, physician’s assistants, psychiatric nurse practitioners, among others.

These are immigrants who have stepped forward to serve our country and protect our freedom. –David Leopold

Some of the language skills sought by the Army through MAVNI are Albanian, Baluchi, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Ibo/Igbo, Indonesian, Kashmiri Malay, Malayalam, Moro (Tausug/Maranao/Maguindanao), Nepalese, Pashto, Swahili, Tagalog, Turkish, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Urdu (with citizenship from Pakistan or Afghanistan), Uzbek and Yoruba.

Read the complete list of sought-after skills by following this link.

Through MAVNI, individuals with special language and medical training skills are “able to move from non-immigrant visa or asylee/refugee/Temporary Protected Status (TPS) directly to citizenship,” according to the program’s website. “In most cases, participants in the program will become naturalized U.S. citizens by the time they graduate from 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training or accept a commission as Army Officers.”

However, delays caused by extreme vetting are causing potential Army recruits to fall out of status and/or experience adverse impacts in their lives because they are stuck in limbo.

Beyond the regular background checks, 10 years of applicants’ educational, financial and professional backgrounds are being reviewed, according to a lawsuit filed on behalf of MAVNI applicants.

According to the New York Times, 4,300 people enrolled in MAVNI are waiting for their background checks and cannot proceed with the basic training or be deployed.

The New York Times also states that 1,500 potential recruits have fallen out of status while waiting for clearance.

For young immigrants under DACA, MAVNI is the only way to enter military life in the U.S., since several attempts to allow them to participate in the armed forces have not progressed from debate to implementation.

“While it’s important to vet immigration applications, USCIS must do whatever it can to avoid delays in MAVNI cases. These are immigrants who have stepped forward to serve our country and protect our freedom,” says David Leopold, immigration attorney and past president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

For more information on the MAVNI program, read our article hereGo to the MAVNI website by following this link.