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On Friday, Oct. 13, the Trump Administration reversed an expedited path to citizenship for immigrants who join the U.S. Armed Forces. The policy change affects all foreign nationals in the country, including green card holders.

Prior to the change on Oct. 13, immigrants who joined the U.S. military were eligible to become U.S. citizens via an expedited process. Now, immigrants serving in a branch of the Armed Forces must proceed through a series of obstacles, including extensive background checks, to receive citizenship status.

Per an NPR interview with retired U.S. Army officer Margaret Stock, foreign-born people make up 13.5-percent of the U.S. population. By making it more difficult for foreign nationals to become citizens via military experience, the Armed Forces’ applicant pool will be much smaller and less diverse with fewer foreign-language and cultural skills.

What Did the New Policy Change?

Joining the military to clear a path towards citizenship was common for foreign nationals living in the U.S., especially those with families. The new policy will make that process more difficult due to changes such as:

A much longer waiting period to receive certification of service
Previously, green-card holders who served in the U.S. military were eligible to receive certification of honorable service after just one day of service. After the policy change on Oct. 13, active-duty troops must wait six months, while reservists must wait one year.

Indefinite delay in green-card holders enlisting in Army Reserve and National Guard
The change doesn’t just affect current foreign-born military members. It also affects those wishing to enlist, as there are new obstacles preventing them from enlisting in both the U.S. Army Reserve and the U.S. National Guard.

Green-card holders must have background checks completed before entering military service
The new policy states that all green-card holders must pass extensive background checks before entry in active, reserve, or guard service. Previously, newly enlisted personnel could ship off to basic training while their background checks were still in progress.

As recently as 2012, around 5,000 green-card holders enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces annually. That number may drop as the military becomes a less viable path to citizenship for foreign nationals and their families.

Questions about New Immigration Policies?

New and more restrictive immigration policies are announced on a near-monthly basis under President Trump and his administration. It’s more important than ever to stay up to date on these changes and be aware of how they might affect you and your family.

If you need help resolving an immigration concern or have questions about your status or the status of a loved one, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call Jennings Immigration Law Office today at (865) 470-0788.