By James Rosen

EXCLUSIVE: Defense Department investigators have discovered “potential security risks” in a Pentagon program that has enrolled more than 10,000 foreign-born individuals into the U.S. armed forces since 2009, Fox News has learned exclusively, with sources on Capitol Hill and at the Pentagon expressing alarm over “foreign infiltration” and enrollees now unaccounted for.

After more than a year of investigation, the Pentagon’s inspector general recently issued a report – its contents still classified but its existence disclosed here for the first time – identifying serious problems with Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI), a DOD program that provides immigrants and non-immigrant aliens with an expedited path to citizenship in exchange for military service.

Defense Department officials said the program is still active but acknowledged that new applications have been suspended.

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Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI)

Although it isn’t a military secret per se, MAVNI is a small and very exclusive program that benefits immigrants and the U.S. military. Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) is a special recruiting program that may be available to some immigrants interested in joining the U.S. military. Generally, immigrants must be permanent residents to join the military (see Military Enlistment Requirements); once enlisted these green card soldiers can take advantage of expedited citizenship. However, MAVNI allows certain non-citizens in the United States to join the military and thereby gain eligibility for U.S. citizenship without first having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a green card. The MAVNI program began in 2009 and remains a pilot program. Recently, the program was extended through fiscal year 2016 (September 30, 2016) and will recruit up to 5,200 people.

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Chapter 3 – Military Service during Hostilities (INA 329)

D. Designated Periods of Hostilities

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and Presidential Executive Orders have designated the following military engagements and ranges of dates as periods of hostilities. [7] 

Designated Periods of Hostilities
World War I [8]  April 6, 1917 November 11, 1918
World War II [9]  September 1, 1939 December 31, 1946
Korean Conflict[10]  June 25, 1950 July 1, 1955
Vietnam Hostilities[11]  February 28, 1961 October 15, 1978
Persian GulfConflict [12]  August 2, 1990 April 11, 1991
War on Terrorism[13]  September 11, 2001 Present

On July 3, 2002, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13269, which has designated a period of hostilities and has permitted the expedited naturalization for foreign nationals eligible under INA 329 as of September 11, 2001. The current designated period continues to be a designated period of hostilities for INA 329 purposes until the President issues a new Executive Order terminating the designation. [14] 

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Executive Order 13269 of July 3, 2002

Expedited Naturalization of Aliens and Noncitizen Nationals Serving in an Active-Duty Status During the War on Terrorism

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 329 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1440) (the “Act”), and solely in order to provide expedited naturalization for aliens and noncitizen nationals serving in an active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States during the period of the war against terrorists of global reach, it is hereby ordered as follows:

For the purpose of determining qualification for the exception from the usual requirements for naturalization, I designate as a period in which the Armed Forces of the United States were engaged in armed conflict with a hostile foreign force the period beginning on September 11, 2001. Such period will be deemed to terminate on a date designated by future Executive Order. Those persons serving honorably in active-duty status in the Armed Forces of the United States, during the period beginning on September 11, 2001, and terminating on the date to be so designated, are eligible for naturalization in accordance with the statutory exception to the naturalization requirements, as provided in section 329 of the Act. Nothing contained in this order is intended to affect, nor does it affect, any other power, right, or obligation of the United States, its agencies, officers, employees, or any other person under Federal law or the law of nations.

B THE WHITE HOUSE, July 3, 2002. Filed 7-5-02; 10:21 am]

[FR Doc. 02-17273

Billing code 3195-01-P

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Expedited Citizenship for Military Personnel and Families

Military personnel enjoy some tremendous immigration benefits compared to their civilian counterparts. A person who has served honorably in the U.S. armed forces at any time may be eligible to apply for expedited naturalization; the military community sometimes refers to this as “peacetime naturalization.” The immigration benefits include:

1
Continuous residence requirement is waived.

While most naturalization applicants need five years as a permanent resident (or three years if sponsored by U.S. citizen spouse), military personnel can obtain U.S. citizenship much more quickly. What is the continuous residence requirement?

2
Physical presence requirement is waived.

While most naturalization applicants are required to be physically present in the U.S. for 30 months (18 months if sponsored by U.S. citizen spouse), military personnel can obtain U.S. citizenship much more quickly. What is the physical presence requirement?

3
USCIS filing fee is waived.

Naturalization will cost most civilian permanent residents $725 ($640 USCIS filing fee + $85 biometric fee). The filing fee is waived for military service members – only $85 is required to file the application for naturalization.

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