Resource: Resources Related to DOD’s Tightening of Rules and Discharges of Immigrants from the Military

By: American Immigration Lawyers Association

July 24, 2020

American Immigration Lawyers Association

In October 2017, the Department of Defense issued several memoranda that tightened the rules for immigrants joining the military.

The Congressional Research Service issued an In Focus report on expedited citizenship through military service describing the current law and eligibity, as well as the MAVNI program and deportation of U.S. military veterans.

On April 24, 2020, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon on behalf of six non-citizen U.S. troops, who allege they are being blocked from accessing the expedited citizenship procedures they are eligible for as military personnel. According to the National Immigration Forum, roughly 8,000 non-citizens join the active duty military each year, and as long as they have received certification from the Pentagon that they have served honorably, all are eligible for expedited citizenship under the INA. In 2017, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued policy guidance which dramatically slows the certification process and limits the number of officials who can approve it. This new lawsuit claims the 2017 guidance “makes it difficult, if not impossible, for service members to benefit from expedited naturalization.”