26 February 2009
US using citizenship promise to recruit for the military
Eighteen members of the United States army had their US citizenship ceremony this week in return for serving in the Armed Forces.
As part of his immigration reforms, ex-President George W. Bush allowed legal permanent residents to apply for American citizenship as soon as they enlisted, rather than having to wait three years.
The incumbent Government is also considering a pilot programme that would allow holders of temporary visa for America with special medical skills or a language other than English or Spanish to enlist in the army and have the opportunity to apply for citizenship immediately.
According to The Dallas News, there are approximately 20,000 foreign-born people enlisted in the US military, and that number is expected to grow with the Government's expansion of its recruitment programme.
The pilot programme will work much the same as a skilled migration programme as seen in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The US military is in need of medical skills – doctors and nurses – in areas such as Afghanistan, and will have 1,000 places to be filled for its first year.
Michael Aytes, the acting deputy director of the federal citizenship agency, said the programme is likely to be successful in terms of recruitment, purely because of the citizenship draw card.
"It is a wonderful inducement. They are really trying to find ways to reach out and get additional specialty skills," he said.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.