F- and M-Visa Students who hold certain critical skills, such as physicians, nurses, and experts in certain languages with associated cultural backgrounds, now have a good opportunity to become Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs). Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) provides such candidates, who are legally present in the United States, a door to join the U. S. Military and apply for U. S. Citizenship immediately by using Form N-400 ‘Application for Naturalization’.
Designated School Officials (DSO) should be aware of the program to help participating students make the shift from the student-status on their F- or M-Visa to a naturalization applicant. The students practicing as physicians/nurses may enrol for a minimum of three years of active duty or six years in the U.S. Army Reserve as a health care professional, while the experts in languages can enlist as a language recruit for at least four years of active duty.
The languages qualifying for MAVNI are: Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Burmese, Cambodian-Khmer, Cebuano, Chinese, Czech, French (limited to individuals possessing citizenship from an African Country), Haitian-Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro, Nepalese, Persian (Dari and Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushtu (Pashto), Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Urdu, Uzbek, Yoruba.
The enlisted persons under MAVNI are required to apply for naturalization, and due to wartime enlistment statute of 2002 (8 USC 1440, INA 329) and Executive Order 13269, they can apply without any minimum period of military service. Though, it does not guarantee citizenship. As the applied F- and M-Visa candidates won’t be able to maintain their student status once they get in the U. S. Military, their SEVIS record will be terminated by DSO.
In case of enlistees who have not yet applied for naturalization but has been maintaining student status up to the time when enlistment makes that impossible, DSO not only terminates the SEVIS record but also lists ‘Authorized Early Withdrawal’ as the reason and mentions that it is due to MAVNI enlistment. For the enlistees who have not informed DSO about the matter but has stopped maintaining student status, DSO terminates the individual by listing the reason as ‘Otherwise Failing to Maintain Status’.
U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will evaluate each applicant’s situation individually on the basis of various factors.
Some recruits, such as the ones who had planned to enter the reserves, may be able to return to their previous status, while the ones who receive discharge for medical reasons may receive temporary B status providing time to sort the personal affairs.
A recruit who leaves the military voluntarily may be granted a temporary status.
In some cases, USCIS will also excuse a late filing for reinstatement, while it may even consider discretionary options to give the individual some time to sort the personal affairs if the previous visa status is not an option.
Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.