Chinese women join US Army to obtain green cards

Some Chinese women are taking a military route towards naturalisation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 5:45pm

Chinese women have found a quick way to obtain American citizenship – just join the United States Army.

The number of Chinese women volunteering for the United States’ Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) programme has doubled from last year, World Journal reported. The programme allows 1,000 selected immigrants expedited US citizenship through military service, and eight of those applicants this year are Chinese women. Many of these women are exchange students who see the US army as a faster route to citizenship and eventual economic independence, the report said. 

One example given by World Journal was a young woman surnamed Meng who enlisted in the US Army after spending three years in the United States at an accounting graduate school. Meng was unable to find employment after graduation and noticed that her immigrant friends with green cards all had to endure a lengthy naturalisation process lasting at least seven years. 

After discovering that the military could offer faster naturalisation and scholarships, Meng decided to enlist first and notify her parents later. Her parents reportedly were worried that their daughter would be sent immediately to a combat zone, but have since calmed down after repeated explanations from Meng.

Another woman named Wei Wei who was preparing to undergo her final military fitness examinations said that her parents planned to retire in the United States, and she had decided to come first and hopefully obtain a green card through an army career. Wei said that applying for a work visa in the States often took a long time and held no guarantee for employees who were unexpectedly laid off – in contrast, the army was “the best insurance” in her eyes, since army participants who engaged in vocational training could obtain a vocational certificate, giving them the chance to potentially work or set up their own business in the future.

Other women interviewed by World Journal said that aside from naturalisation, their decision to join the military was based on a desire to become more confident, hard-working and to reduce the financial burden on their parents.

The MAVNI programme that these young women applied through has been in place since 2009 and is expected to remain open until 2014. It is a recruiting programme that allows “certain legal non-citizens” to enlist in the Army, especially those that have medical expertise or fluency in any of 44 languages deemed “strategic” by the US Army. Chinese is included on the list.

Participants in the programme must have resided in the US legally for at least two years. After enlisting, they are allowed to apply for green cards without first obtaining permanent resident status, although citizenship is not guaranteed.

Chinese online reaction to news of the World Journal report and the MAVNI programme was mixed. Some praised America’s military for offering such an opportunity, but others called the women “traitors” for enlisting in a foreign army.

“America’s military gospel has come,” one Weibo user mused. “Is this going to cause a massive flow of our countrymen into the US army?”

Another commentator said she was not surprised that Chinese people would join the military for faster US citizenship.

“Chinese people are shrewd,” she said. “They can always sniff out the path that’s most advantageous to them.”