Green Card Holders Barred From Enlisting in Army Reserve

A public affairs officer explained recently that “for the time being” green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve, but are not barred from enlisting in the army overall.  The officer claimed the change is because of a new Department of Defense policy that requires stricter vetting standards for green card holders and that background checks must be completed prior to green card holders shipping off for basic training.

The public officer made this statement in clarification of an email sent to Army recruiters from the chief of the Accessions Suitability Office Guard Strength Division that said, “EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY DO NOT ‘SHIP’ OR ‘ENLIST’ ANY FOREIGN NATIONAL’S (ALL 1-551 CARD HOLDERS) UNTIL FURHTER NOTICE.”

Army recruiters have been told to stop enlisting green card holders into the Army Reserve effective immediately, according to an email sent to military recruiters and obtained by Mic, a move that experts say breaks federal law.

The Defense Department’s chief of accession declared in a news release, “Effective immediately, all green holders must complete a background investigation and receive a favorable military suitability determination prior to entering any component of the armed forces.”  Prior to this policy change, green card holders were able to enlist and go to basic training as long as a background check had been started.

Due to a backlog of background checks, the new policy is expected to delay enlisted green card holders from shipping out to basic training for at least a year.

Green card holders are unable to enlist in the Army Reserve due to the change in policy because, according to the director of public affairs at the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, there is not a Delayed Entry Pool where enlistees can wait for background checks to be completed.

Federal law states that an “alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence” can enlist in “any armed force.”  Not allowing green card holders to enlist in the military would violate this law.

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