Federal court prevents DoD from blocking citizenship applications for foreign-born Army Reserve soldiers
Federal court prevents DoD from blocking citizenship applications for foreign-born Army Reserve soldiers

The US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] on Wednesday granted injunctive relief [order, pdf] preventing the Department of Defense (DoD) [official website] from blocking fast-tracked citizenship applications for US Army Reserve soldiers under the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI) [materials] program.

The MAVNI program allowed the enlistment of foreign-born soldiers if they possessed language skills or medical knowledge deemed critical by the DoD. As part of the process for fast-tracked citizenship, the applicants need a N-426 form, which certifies their qualifying military service. Due to changes in security clearances last year, there were significant delays in allowing applicants to move from Delayed Training Programs (DTP) [materials] into U.S. Army Reserve. The N-426 form was originally given to those in the DTPs in order to prevent the applicants from being discharged before their clearances were approved. However, this was stopped on October 13, 2017, when a policy change required that the applicants be in the active component of the military in order to receive a N-426 form.

The court ruled that the DoD has not provided any lawful justifications for the delays in granting the N-426 forms. The court also found that delaying the naturalization process to those promised expedited citizenship paths was an irreparable harm. The court found that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in that the October 13 policy change is arbitrary and improperly retroactively applied to those who enlisted in the program before October 13, 2017.

Currently, there are roughly 2000 soldiers in the DTP that are affected by the decision. The court granted class certification to MAVNI enlistees who enlisted before October 13, 2017, served in the Selected Reserve, and have not received a completed Form N-426.