US Court Clears Path for Fast-Track Citizenship for Foreign-Born Military Service Members - POLSKA УКРАЇНА

For nearly the past 80 years, the United States has offered a path to citizenship for foreigners who volunteer to serve in the American military. Under the Nationality Act of 1940, foreign-born military service members whose superior officers certify that they are serving with honor can use an expedited process to seek U.S. citizenship. That FILE – Army members hold the U.S. flag as they attend an annual Memorial Day ceremony at the Intrepid Museum in New York, May 29, 2017.Last month, a federal judge ruled that policy was unlawful, clearing the way for the fast-track citizenship process to resume. FILE – In this image provided by the U.S. Army, recent Army basic combat training graduates have their temperatures, taken as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic, as they arrive at Fort Lee, Va., March 31, 2020.Margaret Stock, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and immigration lawyer, said the ruling affects “thousands” of people, most of them green card holders and people from American Samoa, Swains Island, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.  Stock called it shameful that it took three years for the courts to reverse Miller’s 2017 memo.  “Thousands of military members suffered delayed naturalization as a result of the memo. The memo also hurt military recruiting because it made it faster for green card holders to naturalize as civilians than as members of the military,” she said.   Stock created the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program (MAVNI) in 2008. MAVNI brought visa holders in legal status with medical or language skills into the armed services and allowed foreign-born military recruits to earn a fast-track path to American citizenship. In 2016, citing national security concerns, the government stopped recruiting nonimmigrant visa holders to service the military. Application rate falls According to court documents, from October 1, 2001, through fiscal year 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has naturalized 129,587 members of the military.  Since the Trump administration announced the new requirements in 2017, the government reported a 72 percent drop in military service members’ naturalization applications from pre-policy levels. As one of the applicants whose application has been held up by the 2017 ruling, Hussain is still waiting for his turn. “I passed the [citizenship] test,” said Hussain. “I did the interview and the [officer] gave me a form and said, ‘You passed the test. … Congratulations, we approved your citizenship,’ but later on he called me and said, ‘We need more evidence.’ ”  Hussain said he has gone through basic training, applied for expedited naturalization, and in one month, he will have officially served one year in the military. He hopes that with last month’s ruling, his superior officers will certify his good standing in the military, clearing the way for him, as a U.S. citizen, to go see his family again. 

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