New Program Authorized for Immigrants in the Military

Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates authorized the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps to recruit more foreigners living in the United States to work as physicians, nurses, and linguists in wartime duty to make up for chronic shortages.

There aren’t enough physicians, nurses, and linguists currently serving in the U.S. Military. To begin to shore up this chronic shortfall, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is set to initiate a concerted recruitment effort to enlist additional foreigners living legally in the United States who may possess these and closely-related skills. Students and workers from all societal sectors will be immediately sought for such volunteer service. Certain enticements will also be added to the arsenals of recruiters to facilitate such efforts.

The Pentagon lacks sufficient numbers of physicians and nurses to treat wounded troops or to act as translators where needed. Many foreign language skill sets hitherto ignored by recruiters have taken on new meaning and urgency under trying combat conditions and operations. Navigating diverse cultures may finally become more possible, or even likely, with the addition of reinforcements culled from domestic locations. According to Charles H. Kuck, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), “Our history has shown that the U.S. military has long accepted noncitizens that are permanent residents of the United States and hold green cards. This action enables the service to recruit certain legal residents whose critical medical and language skills are vital to the national interest. The U.S. military recruited these persons in prior wars, and it makes sense to recruit them now.”

To be eligible under the program, according to a Defense Department fact sheet, the applicant must have lived legally in the United States for at least two years as a refugee, asylum seeker, or under so-called “temporary protected status,” or have been in the United States for the same period in one of certain other legal statuses. They cannot have traveled outside the U.S. for more than 90 days at a time in the two years prior to enlistment.

The medical personnel accepted under the program would be required to serve at least three years on active duty, or six years in the Selected Reserve, and foreign language specialists would be required to serve four years of active duty. The new recruits in the armed forces would get accelerated treatment in the process toward becoming U.S. citizens – in return for their military service.

A. Banerjee is a Houston immigration lawyer in Texas. Before selecting an immigration lawyer in Houston Texas, contact the Law Offices of Annie Banerjee by visiting their information filled web site at

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