MAVNI: A Defense Department Naturalization Program
National security isn’t just about keeping people out of the United States. It is also about letting the right people in. National security doesn’t just mean our physical security. It means our economic security, civil liberties and freedom.
The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program — or MAVNI — grew out of a briefing that attorney Margaret Stock gave to the secretary of the Army at a military conference in the fall of 2007, which conveyed this very idea. At the time, the military was facing a recruiting crisis. Although there were thousands of professionals in the United States who were well-qualified to serve in the military, many were not eligible for recruitment. These same professionals faced problems with our immigration system, often waiting decades for green cards or being told that they must leave the United States to apply for citizenship.
The solution lay in the past.
During past wars, the United States had naturalized many people from other countries who served in the U.S. military. These people received citizenship in exchange for their service to our country.
MAVNI was created to allow certain legal immigrants already in the United States to join the military. There was a quota, which was increased after the program was piloted. It was highly successful, and our Anchorage, Alaska, law office was inundated with calls from people who wished to apply.
Because of this successful program, many professionals — including doctors — have served the military and gone on to become citizens of our country much more quickly than they otherwise would have.
Stock was recently recognized as a 2013 MacArthur Foundation fellow (an honor commonly referred to as the MacArthur genius grant) for her theoretical work on the connection between immigration and national security, as well as three important programs, including MAVNI.