Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (popularly known as “green card” holders) enlisting in the Army or any other service branch will face an extended delay before entering active duty as of October 2017. U.S. Army Recruiting Command said in a ...
The United States Army will no longer accept lawful permanent residents, also called "green card" holders, as recruits.
Army Reserve and National Guard enlistment for I-551 card holders is currently "on hold."
I-551 card holders may join other branches of the military, but cannot begin basic training until after they complete a background check.
Lawful permanent residents of the U.S. (popularly known as “green card” holders) enlisting in the Army or any other service branch will face an extended delay before entering active duty as of October 2017.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command said in a statement on 24 October that enlistees holding a Form I-551 card (a green card) will be placed in the Army’s existing delayed entry program for recruits awaiting their boot camp assignment dates.
According to USARC, green card holders who enlist will now have to complete their background checks, which could take up to a year, before being allowed to begin boot camp. Previously they were eligible to begin their training as soon as their background check began. Stephanie Miller, director of accessions for the Department of Defense, is quoted as saying:
Effective immediately, all green card holders must complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military security suitability determination prior to entering any component of the armed forces
On 13 October 2017, the Department of Defense (DOD) said that green card holders enlisted in military reserve components like the Army Reserve and National Guard would be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship if they completed their background checks and served for one year:
For example, the individual drilled successfully, he achieved all of his points, he did his two weeks of annual training and as a result, achieved one good federal year. At that time, the department would render that person’s service as honorable, and then the department would sign the form that he would include in the naturalization packet for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
However, USARC’s statement contradicts that remark:
Accessions into the Army Reserve are temporarily on hold while U.S. Army Recruiting Command establishes a Reserve Delayed Entry Pool to allow future Army Reserve Soldiers to sign a contract and then wait for completed background checks before accessing.
Current green card holders, USARC said, can still enlist for active duty “with the understanding that they will be part of the Delayed Entry Pool until the screening process is complete”.
Before that statement, a Mic.com article reported that the Army Reserve had banned green card holders from enlisting entirely, quoting from an email sent to recruiters by Gregory C. Williamson, chief of the Accessions Suitability Office Guard Strength Division:
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY DO NOT ‘SHIP’ OR ‘ENLIST’ ANY FOREIGN NATIONAL’S (ALL I-551 CARD HOLDERS) UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Such a ban would have violated federal law allowing for any “alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence” to enlist for military service. On 18 October 2017, it published the following update:
On Wednesday, an Army public affairs officer responded to Mic’s Tuesday report, clarifying that “for the time being,” green card holders cannot enlist in the Army Reserve specifically, rather than barring enlistment in the Army overall.
According to the Immigration and Naturalization Act, active and retired U.S. service members are eligible to become naturalized citizens if they served for at least one year and, if applicable, were discharged honorably.
In 2016 the Pentagon suspended the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI), which offered an expedited path to U.S. citizenship for green card holders in exchange for six years of service.
Two separate lawsuits have been filed by recruits in connection with the move, and some recruits have reported that their enlistment contracts have been terminated.
However, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on 13 October 2017:
We are taking the steps obviously to save the program, if it can be saved. And I believe it can.
We contacted U.S. Army Recruiting Command and the Department of Defense seeking further comment, but have not yet heard back.
immigration,lawful permanent residents,U.S. Army,U.S. Army Reserves