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Do you have to be a US citizen or permanent resident to work in the military?

Some Fong & Aquino immigration law clients have asked about the possibility of serving in the US armed forces. Fong & Aquino contacted military recruiters in Los Angeles.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) began a pilot program in December 2008 to recruit up to 1,000 people in the next 12 months. DOD has taken this step to permit enlistment of certain nonimmigrant aliens who have skills which are critical to the US. The critical skills are within the medical field and foreign languages.

If you wish to enlist, you must be in one of the following categories: asylee, refugee, temporary protected status (TPS). Also, E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V nonimmigrants are eligible. An eligible recruit: (a) must not have had any single absence from the US of more than 90 days during the two-year period preceding enlistment, (b) must have been in valid status in one of these categories for at least two years immediately prior to enlistment (but it does not have to be the same category for the entire period), and (c) in the medical category, the recruit must fill medical specialities where the armed forces have a shortfall, and (d) in the language category, the recruit must possess specific language and culture capabilities in a language critical to DOD.

Nonimmigrants who serve in the US military during a time of war are eligible for accelerated citizenship.

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