A small number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Will have actually an opportunity to sign up with the armed forces for the an initial time in years under a brand-new Department the Defense plan unveiled Thursday.

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The brand-new rules will expand an present program enabling recruiters come target international nationals v high-demand skills, mostly rare international language field of expertise or dedicated health treatment training.

For the an initial time, the program — known as military Accessions in the nationwide Interest, or MAVNI — will be open to immigrants without a suitable visa if they came to the U.S. V their parents prior to age 16. More specifically, they need to be approved under a 2012 Obama administration policy known as Deferred activity for child Arrivals, or DACA.

The brand-new Pentagon policy may be the very first phase of a wider government-wide effort to ease pressure on immigrants and also create brand-new paths to citizenship. Chairman Barack Obama, frustrated through the fail of congress to pass any an extensive immigration reform, has vowed come aggressively usage his presidential authority to readjust the way immigration plans are carried out.

The Pentagon program is capped at 1,500 recruits per year. Officials speak it"s uncertain how many of those can be unlawful DACA standing immigrants together opposed come others that are likewise eligible because that military business under MAVNI, including those v legal, nonpermanent vi such together students or tourists.

Estimates suggest between 1.2 million and 2.1 million children, teens and young adult in the U.S. Have no legal immigrant status yet meet the criteria for the DACA program. Those targeted by recruiters under the MAVNI program most likely will be immigrants with language skills an essential to national security, such as Arabic, Chinese, Pashto or Persian.

But Pentagon public official don"t understand how countless of those immigrants have actually actually learned their genealogical language to the proficiency required by the military.

"We"re just not sure how many within the existing population of DACA would have actually the linguistic skills to qualify," said one defense official acquainted with the plan change. "These are children who gone into the country at a reasonably young age and have basically grown up in the united States, for this reason the limit of their language talents would most likely be the language the they got at home."

DACA condition is granted through the room of homeland Security and also includes a elevator check.

On average, the army recruits about 5,000 noncitizens each year, nearly all of them permanent U.S. Residents, or so-called "green card" holders. Beginning in 2006, the military started accepting some foreigners v nonpermanent visas, such together students or tourists, if they had special skills that are highly valued.

After entering armed forces service, foreigners are eligible because that expedited U.S. Citizenship. Since 2001, much more than 92,000 foreign-born company members have end up being citizens while offer in uniform.

The MAVNI program began in 2008 and also remains a pilot program. The Pentagon educated Congress top top Thursday the the program, i m sorry was because of expire at the finish of this budget year, will be prolonged for one more two years and will because that the first time incorporate DACA-status immigrants.

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The military services room not required to accept recruits under MAVNI. In recent years, the military has to be the only organization to accept a far-ranging number that recruits under the program. The Air force has welcomed only a couple of and the Navy and Marine Corps have not search MAVNI recruits in recent years.