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Can illegal immigrants join the armed forces?

Bronx, NY |


I had a very important question that will possibly change the course of my life if answered.

I've been living in the States since 2001, and I've just turned 19.

I was adopted by a US Citizen family not too long after, and for some reason, when I filed for citizenship/greencard, I was denied.

I want to join the armed forces, however, i was told that because of my status, I wasn't eligible to do so.

Is there any way that I can join the armed forces?

I really want to serve this country as a proud soldier. it has been my dream for years and I'm so outraged at the fact that I can't fulfill my dream.

Please help me.
I look forward to hear back from you.

Thank you.

And if this is possible, What is the best way for me to do so? Can I just walk into a recruiting center and tell them that I'm an illegal immigrant who want to join the armed forces? Thank you...

Attorney Answers 2


The short answer to your question is no. There is a citizenship requirement to serve in the armed forces. What you may have heard about is a special program put into place last year for non-citizens who possess specialized skills. Here is a short description of the program.

On November 25, 2008, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates signed a memorandum authorizing the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to implement a new non-citizen recruiting pilot program for the United States Armed Forces. 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 military and apply immediately for US citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent residence.

The US Army MAVNI recruiting program, which seeks to recruit health care professionals and persons who speak certain strategic languages, begins on Monday, February 23, 2009. The Army has chosen New York City as the site for recruiting those who seek to enlist on the basis of their language skills, while Army health care professionals will be recruited nationwide.

Stanley Dale Radtke, Esq.
220 Montgomery Street, Suite 416
San Francisco, CA 94104

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The US Armed Forces is supposed to check that a prospective enlistee is either a US citizen or a legal permanent resident before letting the person join. (There are other requirements.) Some persons who are neither citizens nor LPRs do manage to enlist, usually by presenting false documents. Because the US Armed Forces need people now, the unlawful aliens are often allowed to continue to serve after being discovered. Because of presidential orders, the unlawful aliens may even become eligible for naturalization without becoming LPRs first.

You likely should review your specific facts with your attorney so that you understand what is happening with your file, why you were denied, and what legal options you may have.

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