For the first time, the program — known as Military Accessions in the National Interest, or MAVNI — will be open to immigrants without a proper visa if they came to the U.S. with their parents before age 16. More specifically, they must be approved under a 2012 Obama administration policy known as Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
According to a New York Times article, "[t]he MAVNI program was initially created for temporary immigrants who speak one of about three dozen languages including Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Pashto, Nepalese, Russian, Uzbek and Swahili — but not Spanish, the language of the majority of the undocumented young people. It also accepts licensed doctors and dentists in certain specialties. Immigrants must pass rigorous security checks to be accepted."
After entering military service, foreigners are eligible for expedited U.S. citizenship. Since 2001, more than 92,000 foreign-born service members have become citizens while serving in uniform.
The MAVNI program began in 2008 and remains a pilot program. The Pentagon notified Congress on Thursday that the program, which was due to expire at the end of this fiscal year, will be extended for another two years and will for the first time include DACA-status immigrants.