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Posted by attorney Anthony Nze Nwosu

The popular Department of Defense (DoD) naturalization program, first introduced as a pilot in 2009, will reopen again for 2012. Sources from the US Army have confirmed that a new skills and languages list has been designated for 2012, although the US Army website and recruiters have not been updated with the new information. Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the United States to join the Army and apply immediately for U.S. citizenship without first obtaining lawful permanent residence. Other branches of the Armed Forces may also participate in the program in 2012; details will be forthcoming.

To be eligible for the program, applicants must have been legally present in the U.S. for at least two years and possess the skilled medical training or language skills the DoD has designated as in demand. Those who are out of status or undocumented, visitors on B visas or the Visa Waiver Program, as well as those with serious criminal records, are ineligible for the program. Through the military naturalization process applicants pay no fees for the application, but do have a contractual obligation to serve in the military for a minimum of four years active duty for language recruits, or a choice of three years active duty or six years Select Reserve for medical recruits. In either case, a recruit has an eight-year contractual commitment to the military, including non-active service, and the naturalization can be revoked if an applicant does not provide at least five years of honorable service. This program could help many people with limited immigration options, including J-1 physicians who has been in the U.S. for two years and has a U.S. medical license, but are subject to the two-year home residence requirement. Such physicians could naturalize without completing the home residence requirement nor requesting a waiver. Nurses could also benefit when they might otherwise have difficulty obtaining appropriate work visas. Those in TPS status for at least two years could also enlist and naturalize when they might otherwise have very limited immigration options. For 2012, those in the following fields may apply: General Dentists, Oral Surgeons, Comprehensive Dentists, Prosthodontists, Oral Surgeons, Preventive Medicine, Urologists, Anesthesiologists, Ophthalmologists, Otolaryngologists, Pediatricians, Psychiatrists, Internists, Family Physicians, General Surgeons, Thoracic Surgeons, Orthopedic Surgeons, Emergency Medicine Physicians, Nuclear Science Officers, Entomologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Physician Assistants, Licensed Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners, and Nurse Anesthestists. Those with skills in the following languages may also apply: Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Burmese, Cebuano, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese, Czech, French (with citizenship from an African country), Georgian, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo, Indonesian, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro, Nepalese, Pashto, Persian Dari, Persian Farsi, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Sindhi, Serbo-Croatian, Singhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu (with citizenship or birth certificate from Pakistan or Afghanistan), Uzbek, and Yoruba.

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