Can an Immigrant Join the Army in the United States?

Many people dream of serving in the U.S. military, but not all of them are U.S. citizens.

If you are an immigrant who wants to join the army or any other branch of the armed forces, you may wonder what the requirements and benefits are.


Can an Immigrant Join the Army in the United States?
Can an Immigrant Join the Army in the United States?


In this article, I will answer some of the most common questions about immigrants in the U.S. military and provide you with some useful resources.

What are the citizenship and residency requirements to join the U.S. military?

The U.S. military accepts both citizens and non-citizens who meet certain criteria. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) with a valid green card.

You must also speak, read, and write English fluently and pass a background check. You cannot join the military to enter the U.S. or to get a visa.

There are some exceptions to the LPR requirement for certain individuals who have special skills or come from certain countries.

For example, the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) program allows non-citizens who have medical or language skills that are in high demand to enlist in the military.

Additionally, citizens of some Pacific Island nations, such as Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau, can join the military under international treaties.

Some Canadian citizens with American Indian heritage can also enlist as LPRs under U.S. law.

How can joining the U.S. military help immigrants get citizenship?

One of the benefits of joining the U.S. military as an immigrant is that you can apply for naturalization faster and easier than civilians.

Normally, LPRs have to wait five years before they can apply for citizenship, but military members can do so after one year of honorable service during peacetime or immediately during wartime.

The naturalization process for military members is also free of charge and does not require a residency or physical presence test.

However, joining the military does not guarantee citizenship.

You still have to meet the eligibility requirements, such as good moral character, knowledge of U.S. history and government, and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution.

You also have to complete the application process, which involves submitting paperwork, taking fingerprints, passing an interview and a test, and taking an oath of allegiance.

What are the challenges and risks for immigrants in the U.S. military?

While joining the U.S. military can offer many opportunities and advantages for immigrants, it also comes with some challenges and risks.

For instance, some immigrants may face discrimination or harassment from their peers or superiors based on their ethnicity, accent, or religion.

Some immigrants may also struggle with cultural differences or language barriers that affect their performance or integration.

Moreover, joining the U.S. military does not protect immigrants from deportation if they commit crimes or violate immigration laws.

In fact, some immigrants who served honorably in the military have been deported after their service due to criminal convictions or immigration issues.

Therefore, it is important for immigrants in the military to maintain their legal status and avoid any trouble with the law.


In summary, immigrants can join the U.S. military if they meet certain criteria, such as being LPRs with valid green cards and fluent in English.

Joining the military can help immigrants get citizenship faster and easier than civilians, but it does not guarantee it.

Immigrants in the military may also face some challenges and risks, such as discrimination, deportation, or cultural adjustment.

If you are an immigrant who wants to join the army or any other branch of the armed forces, you should consult with a recruiter and an immigration attorney to learn more about your options and obligations.

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