The MAVNI Program
The MAVNI Program - Updated in 2019
The Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest(MAVNI) Program is a pilot recruiting program offered by the U.S. military in an effort to search for individuals with critical language and cultural skills in certain kind of languages. This program was designed in a way to allow legal non-citizens to join the US Army in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship.
- Bypass the Green Card process entirely and gain U.S. citizenship
- Attend high-quality training and gain opportunities of advanced schooling
- Earn a steady income with benefits for Soldiers and family members
- Gain leadership skills
- Earn money for college
There are 3 criteria that the applicant must meet in order to successfully enlist in the U.S. Army.
Applicants must be in one of the following categories at the time of their enlistment:
a. Non-Immigrant categories → E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U or V
b. Approved Asylee, Refugee, & Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
c. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Applicants must legally reside in the United States for a minimum of two years prior to joining the Army.
a. Must be between ages of 17 and 34 and depart for the training prior to 35th birthday*
b. DACA are excluded (To clarify, DACAs do not have to reside in the US for two years prior to joining)
c. No absences that last longer than 90 days per travel
a. High school diploma (High school seniors can join)
b. Minimum score of 50 or higher on Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT)
c. Minimum rating of 2 or higher on Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)
There are currently 51 languages that the U.S. Army is interested in. Here are the recruited languages:
Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cebuano, Cambodian-Khmer, Chinese, Czech, French (with citizenship from an African Country), Georgian, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Ibo/Igbo, Indonesian, Japanese, Kashmiri, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Malay, Malayalam, Moro (Tausug/Maranao/Maguindanao), Nepalese, Pashto, Persian Dari, Persian Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Sindhi, Singhalese, Somali, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Urdu (with citizenship from Pakistan or Afghanistan), Uzbek, Yoruba
To get started on your career in the U.S. Army, you’ll have to talk to your local recruiter to actually get the process started. Please use this link to contact your local recruiter, go check with them to see if the recruiting office accepts MAVNI applicants.
There are many steps and details entailed within each steps of the enlistment, but here’s the big picture.
Meet your local recruiter
Use this link to find and contact your local recruiter. Find a Local Office
- Select Enlisted for Area of Interest
- Choose a Type of Recruiting Officer
a. Active Duty: Full time
b. Army Reserve: Part-time
- Type in Your Zip Code
Let’s talk about some of the documentations you might want to bring to make your entire process faster & smoother
- Visa document (whatever used to establish your immigration status listed above)
- Valid passport
- Social Security Number Card
- Birth Certificate
- Official High school transcript & diploma
- Official college transcripts
- Photo ID
a. State ID
b. Driver’s License
c. NOT school ID
i. Ex: University ID card
ii. If you don’t have both state ID or Driver’s License, you can use your school ID at MEPS
*When initially meeting your recruiter to get the paperwork started, make sure you don’t leave anything out. Be honest.
After you’ve completed your initial sign-up, you’ll take an unofficial pre-ASVAB pre-test to see what it’s like + to sort of see where you are at if you took the ASVAB. The score you obtain will be rough estimate of AFQT score to determine your immediate level of knowledge. The unofficial pre-ASVAB test is a good indicator of where your AFQT score will be if the real one is taken at that moment.
Regular enlistee require AFQT score of 31 or higher. However, MAVNI require 50 or higher in the AFQT. We’ll talk more about this in the next section.
ASVAB & TAPAS
Let's start with some acronyms and their meanings:
ASVAB → Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery
TAPAS → Tailored Adaptive Personality Assessment System
MEPS → Military Entrance Processing Station
MOS → Military Occupational Specialties (your job)
ASVAB is a military exam you’ll need to take in order to determine your eligibility in the Army & to determine your qualifying MOS’s. There are different test areas to determine your different line scores. AFQT score is only needed to see if you can enlist in the army or not. It’s your line scores that determine which MOS you may be able to think about. Notice I said think about, not get. You’ll take the real ASVAB at MEPS.
Here are the different test areas of ASVAB
- General Science → Life science (biology), earth & space science, and physical sciences like chemistry or physics
- Arithmetic Reasoning → Solving calculating related questions
- Word Knowledge → How good is your vocabulary? Word meanings through synonyms
- Paragraph Comprehension → Read paragraphs, answer questions based on information given from the paragraphs
- Mathematics Knowledge → Conceptual mathematics questions
- Electronics Information → Circuits, currents, and systems related
- Auto and Shop Information → Automotive parts, functions, how to repair, and etc
- Mechanical Comprehension → “Knowledge of the principles of mechanical devices, structural support, and properties of materials
- Assembling Objects → put shapes together and test your spatial abilities. (Can be tricky)
Your AFQT score will only be determined based on your scores from Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, and Word Knowledge. Again, keep in mind that AFQT score is typically used to determine whether you’re eligible to join the Army or not. U.S. Army is selective, and does not need individuals who score lower than the requirement. Although not always true, typically, higher AFQT = more options of MOS’s to choose from as long as they’re available.
For instance, having an AFQT score of 75 means the examinee performed as well as or better than the 75% of the nationally representative sample of 18-23 year old reference group. If 90, 90%. You cannot get a score of 100. Someone would score perfect score, and you can’t do better than them. There are no “extra credit questions” in ASVAB. Believe me. Do well on ASVAB, and your career exploration will be much easier.
After taking the ASVAB, you’ll be given a paper with your AFQT score and different line scores. Different MOS looks at different line scores. It’s your job to see if you’re eligible for that job. Please refer to this link to see MOS’s that are available to MAVNI. The reason for this is that some MOS’s require security clearance, which MAVNIs can’t initially obtain. After opening that file, look under the tab “ASVAB” to see the required line score type and value.
TAPAS is a personality test to to identify whether the morals and characteristics of the candidate is compatible with the values of the Army. Unless you seem greatly unfit, you’ll pass this. If you have friends and have good social life, chances are you’ll be fine. Even if you don’t, don’t worry too much. Your recruiter will know if you’re unfit. For MAVNI, you do not have to pass the TAPAS test
This is part a lot of people are afraid of believe it or not. In fact, you shouldn’t be too worried unless you have serious medical conditions. Again, your recruiter will provide specific details as to medical waivers that you may need, if necessary.
It’s important that everyone who intend to enlist in the U.S. Army meeet certain physical requirements. The reason for this is because it’s important to make sure the enlistee can safely make it through the BCT(Basic Combat Training). On the day of the physical exam, you’ll wake up early in the morning, before 5:00AM for sure. When enlistee are transported to MEPS, they will meet different physicians and technicians for various exams including, but not limited to, hearing, vision, anus, and etc. It’s sort of like family doctor checkup, but military standard. Expect long waiting and countless hours of sitting.
Keep in mind that you’ll go over all the possible health issues with your recruiter before you get to MEPS. Don’t leave anything out because you don’t want to disclose something new at MEPS that you didn’t tell your recruiter.
Applicants will undergo following examinations:
- Height & weight measurements → Each branch of the military has its own height and weight measurements. Weight is important, but your BMI is just as important.
- Hearing and vision examination → Colorblind? Has hearing issues? Let’s find out.
- Drug, alcohol, & blood tests → Have you smoked substances or consumed alcohols? Are you HIV positive? Hmm…. Remember, there’s pregnancy test for ladies. If you had substance abuse, be honest with your recruiter and MEPS physicians about it. If found out later, there will be huge consequences.
- Balancing, skeletal, and muscular checking → simple balancing tests and flexibility exams will be given to you. Are your joints capable of swinging in full motion? Duck walk is also something you’ll do here.
- Not sure if ladies do this, but for males, your anus will be checked. Yes, you will spread out your butt in front of them.
- Doctors will also examine you for hemorrhoids and hernia.
OPI → Oral Proficiency Interview
As a MAVNI applicant, you have to take something called OPI to meet your “proficient in one of critical language other than English” requirement. This is an oral interview test, and this will typically be taken over the phone.
MAVNI applicants must obtain a rating of 2 or higher to qualify. The key for this interview is to use native vocabularies and have smoothly flowing conversation with the interviewer.
They’ll usually start out with things like how you’re doing or just your daily activity. They may also ask current events about economy, unemployment, or your opinion about an issue. You may also be put in different types of scenarios where you’ll act out as a character. They’ll evaluate on how you’ll respond in different scenarios. It may be things like, you get into a car accident and how you react.
Expect the score to be received within a week at most unless there are some backlogs. Remember, using English vocabularies in your conversations will negatively impact your rating. A good way to practice for OPI is to practice the language with a native speaker in different topics. If you can fluently speak the language with a native speaker, you’re good to go.
When everything looks good, you then head back to MEPS to get your contract done and swear in. For active, you enlist into delayed entry program with MOS 09B + placeholder shipdate of 1 year from contract. AFTER favorable NIAC & SSBI, you return to MEPS to renegotiate your MOS & shipdate. This is because favorable results are required for all from now on.
Active Duty: These soldiers are full-time soldiers
- Minimum years: 4 years of active service, rest IRR. Typically, long AIT = long service length.
- The length of active service depends on the MOS that you choose.
- Inactive ready reserve is where you’re honorably discharged and “stay ready” until called back. You’re not paid or provided any compensations during this time. However, if the Army needs you, you’ll be called back.
- If the number of your active service is 5 years, then your IRR will be 3 years
- Active duty are full-time soldiers. It only makes sense that active duty personnel will spend more time practicing their MOS.
- More options and availalbitity when it comes to MOS choosing
- Full-time job
Looking for a full-time job in the time of high unemployment? Welcome to the Army.
- Full-time jobs typically have higher pay + higher benefits provided.
- Better education benefits → Montgomery GI Bill & Post 9/11 GI Bill
- Deployment: As a full-time soldier, you may have the chance to be stationed outside the U.S.
- Full-time soldier: if you would like to keep another job while serving, this isn’t it for you. You spend all your time in the Army if you want to become an active service soldier.
Active Reserve: These soldiers are part-time soldiers
- Minimum years: 6 years of reserve service & 2 years of IRR
- Part time
- You get to serve this country AND have a civilian life on the side. If you would like to finish your education, such as college while serving, this may be better fit.
- Duty Station
- Your duty station will be close to where you enlisted. Means you don’t have to be stationed 200+ miles away from your home. But doesn’t mean it would be less than 50 miles.
- Since your duty station will be limited to the one near you, whatever that duty station needs will be your only options when choosing the MOS
- Full-time job
- Looking for a full-time job? Well this is a part-time job
- Lower than the active duty due to being a part-time soldier.
- Lower education benefits → Selected Reserve GI Bill
- Deployments (Well, you would think they won’t, but they deploy just as much as active duty do!)
When going into MEPS to choose your MOS after favorable NIAC & SSBI, highly recommended to have a list of top 20 MOS’s you want. Research research research! However, go in MEPS with an open mind. Check out all the available MOS for MAVNIs. The jobs you’re offered will be based on three factors.
- Active Duty or Active Reserve?
- Line score?
- Availability of the MOS during the time you look up the job. If it was available 30 seconds before the contract and someone took it before you take it, IT’S NOT AVAILABLE ANY LONGER.