I get lots of people asking me about joining the Army National Guard and the Army in general. With the heated debates currently over immigration reform, a question that often couples their inquiry is whether or not you have to be a US Citizen to join the U.S. Army. It may surprise some of you to learn that you do not have to be a U.S. citizen in order to join the Army National Guard, but there are certain restrictions. You do, however, need to be a legal permanent resident. In other words, you need to have a “green card.” You can not simply enlist with a student visa or work visa. In addition to be eligible you must:
- Have entered the United States on a permanent residence visa or have an Alien Registration Receipt Card (INS Form 1-551/I-551 green-card or stamped I-94)
- Established a bona fide residence
- Established a home of record in the United States.
It is important to note that the visa and/or “green-card” must have sufficient time remaining on it to be valid during the entire term on enlistment. Also, your MOSs are limited as you cannot hold any MOS that requires a security clearance. While non-citizens may enlist in the Army National Guard, they are not allowed to serve more the 8 years unless they first become a U.S. Citizen. One thing to keep in mind is that service in the Army National Guard and US Military often helps you to actually become a US Citizen, so it is often a very popular choice for those seeking US Citizenship.