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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

There is hope for immigrants enlisted in MAVNI | Opinion

Tallahassee Democrat (Op-Ed)
By Elizabeth Ricci
September 10, 2018

With each passing week, it seems pathways to U.S. citizenship become harder to navigate. For many immigrants, one such course has been to serve their adopted country as members of our military, putting their lives on the line in exchange for the prospect of citizenship.

In yet another roadblock, nearly 50 foreign-born reservists who enlisted in the military under a special recruitment program were abruptly discharged earlier this year. The program – called “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest” or MAVNI – offered expedited citizenship to immigrants with valuable medical, engineering or foreign language skills.

The Defense Department gave little explanation for the sudden discharges, aside from telling some service members they are security risks. MAVNI discharges were halted by the Army following public backlash, but as many as 10,000 enlistees are facing uncertain futures due to the program’s backlog and subsequent suspension last year.

However, all hope is not lost. I found that an underused rule may benefit MAVNI recruits by serving as a fast-track to permanent residency. A solution may be in a green card category called the National Interest Waiver.

NIW may be a green card option for those who can establish their work is in the “national interest.” To be eligible, applicants must also satisfy other merit-based requirements, such as having an advanced degree and showing “exceptional ability.”

Considering that MAVNI, by definition, was for immigrants who were “vital to the national interest,” this means one might fulfill NIW requirements with proof of MAVNI acceptance, transcripts and support letters.

I made the connection between MAVNI and NIW through my work on dozens of NIW cases. The common thread is their substantial merit-based components. Individuals who qualify for NIW – or who qualified for MAVNI – are highly-skilled professionals who bring critical knowledge to the U.S. My NIW clients include a laser engineer from Korea who developed technology to cut smartphone glass, and a neuroscientist from India who discovered an area of the brain that can be manipulated to prevent epileptic seizures.

Perhaps the biggest perk of the NIW is that applicants can skip the process of sponsorship and labor certification, which can take years. By contrast, NIW applicants may be able to obtain a green card in a matter of months.

Despite the continued hurdles surrounding U.S. immigration, the NIW can provide a viable option to residency and ultimately citizenship for discharged MAVNI reservists or those in limbo. The NIW can keep the American Dream alive for immigrants who chose to wear the uniform of our nation to protect our freedom – the same freedom they seek for themselves and families.

For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com

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