For the first time since the Vietnam war, temporary immigrants who have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years will have a chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months. All that is required is that they answer the call of Uncle Sam and join the military. The military will also waive naturalization fees, which are at least $675.
The program will initially be limited to 1,000 enlistees nationwide, mostly for the Army. If proven successful, it could be expanded to 14,000 across all branches of the military.
Military officials want to attract immigrants who have native knowledge of languages and cultures that the Pentagon considers strategically vital. The program will also be open to students and refugees who have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise needed to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.
The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide.
To enlist, temporary immigrants will have to prove that they have lived in the United States for two years and have not been out of the country for longer than 90 days during that time. They will have to pass an English test. Language experts will have to serve four years of active duty, and health care professionals will serve three years of active duty or six years in the Reserves. If the immigrants do not complete their service honorably, they could lose their citizenship.
Recruiting is expected to start in coming days.
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