The U.S. military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become U.S. citizens in as little as six months.
Immigrants who are permanent residents, with documents commonly known as green cards, have long been eligible to enlist. The new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they’ve lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, and have not left from more than 90 days during that time.
In recent years, as U.S. forces faced combat in two wars and recruiters struggled to meet goals for the all-volunteer military, thousands of legal immigrants with temporary visas who tried to enlist were turned away because they lacked permanent green cards, recruiting officers said. Recruiters’ work became easier in the past.
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.