You can now enlist in the US military. [NYT] (tip Karthik via email)
Uncle Sam(ir) wants you
Fighting a war on two fronts and faced with a growing need for manpower, the US military is now reaching out to immigrants on temporary visas like the F1.
So who qualifies for this program?
the new effort, for the first time since the Vietnam War, will open the armed forces to temporary immigrants if they have lived in the United States for a minimum of two years, according to military officials familiar with the plan.
The upside for the military?
Recruiters expect that the temporary immigrants will have more education, foreign language skills and professional expertise than many Americans who enlist, helping the military to fill shortages in medical care, language interpretation and field intelligence analysis.
“The American Army finds itself in a lot of different countries where cultural awareness is critical,” said Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, the top recruitment officer for the Army, which is leading the pilot program. “There will be some very talented folks in this group.”
And what’s in it for the immigrant?
Stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq, the American military will begin recruiting skilled immigrants who are living in this country with temporary visas, offering them the chance to become United States citizens in as little as six months.
Uncle Sam has even offered to pick up the tab for the naturalization fees ($675).
Knowledge of the cultures and languages of strategically important areas seems to be a huge consideration for this recruitment drive.
Military officials want to attract immigrants who have native knowledge of languages and cultures that the Pentagon considers strategically vital. The program will also be open to students and refugees.
The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after Department of Homeland Security officials update an immigration rule in coming days.
The list of Indian languages is seemingly endless. [TOI]
Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Maithili, Malyalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and also Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Chhattisgarhi, Haryanvi, Magahi and Marwari.
Seems like a win-win situation for the immigrant? Not so fast, my friend, read the fine print.
To enlist, temporary immigrants will have to prove that they have lived in the United States for two years and have not been out of the country for longer than 90 days during that time. They will have to pass an English test.
Language experts will have to serve four years of active duty, and health care professionals will serve three years of active duty or six years in the Reserves. If the immigrants do not complete their service honorably, they could lose their citizenship.
Much like India, America is also a land of paradoxes. 18 year old kids are considered old enough to vote, carry a gun and die for their country but not old enough to have a drink. The reason I bring this up, because amid rising protectionism and the backlash immigrants workers on temporary visas like H1B are facing, it is highly ironic that the nation is opening up one of its most sacred bastions, the military to the same type of immigrants.
I’m sure our readership consists of students who are or could soon be looking for potential employment. In fact, we have a lot of readers who are immigrants on temporary visas like the H1B. The question here is, hypothetically speaking, if offered, would you take up this opportunity to be on the fast track to citizenship, given the current economic situation and the security of immigration status that this kind of offer entails?
If so, why? If not, why?