U.S. army "wants more immigrants"
The United States army will now accept immigrants with temporary visas to enroll, offering accelerated citizenship.
Previously, immigrants needed to have permanent residency, known as a "green card", in order to enroll in the army. Those who enroll in the army with temporary visas could become U.S. citizens in as little as six months.
This is the first time the army has changed its restrictions since the Vietnam War.
“'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," reported the New York Times.
The army will not enlist illegal immigrants, officers said. That policy would not change.
"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," the New York Times reports.
About 8,000 immigrants with green cards join the armed forces annually, the Pentagon reports.
BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7891222.stm
New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/15/us/15immig.html?hp