Hundreds of foreigners all over the world express their great interest in joining the United States Military. Almost all of them are wondering whether they can join the U.S. military as a foreigner and what limitations they might encounter if they join armed forces as non-citizens. Don’t sweat it! Let’s take your precious time to read our helpful blog below to find the proper answer for your question. 

There are some frequently asked questions regarding being eligible for military service as a non-citizen. Let’s check it out!


1. What is the green card? 

foreigner join us military
Permanent Resident Card

The green card, so-called Permanent Resident Card and issued by the Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security, has a 10-year span before it must be renewed. The card contains a photo and fingerprint of its holder. It entitle you to live and work lawfully and permanently anywhere in the United State

You can apply to become a green card holder through a U.S. consulate while you are living overseas, or after you arrive in the U.S. Furthermore, in order to win your card, you must be eligible under one of the categories listed below:

  • Green Card through Family
  • Green Card through Employment
  • Green Card as a Special Immigrant
  • Green Card through Refugee or Asylee Status
  • Green Card for Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
  • Green Card for Victims of Abuse
  • Green Card through Other Categories
  • Green Card through Registry

It should be noted that the application process involves a lot more forms, an interview, photographs and fingerprints. To get more information on eligibility requirements, how to apply, and whether your family members can also apply with you, please visit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


2. Can I join The U.S. Military As A Foreigner? 

join us military as a foreigner
A non-citizen might enlist in the United States military.

Yes. A non-citizen might enlist in the military. Although you aren’t required to be a U.S. citizen to join the Army, you do have to live here. In other words, you cannot join the military from a foreign country – you must become a permanent U.S. resident also known as a green-card holder. However, according to federal law, non-citizens are prohibited from becoming commission or warrant officers.

Addition to holding a green card, you must be living in the U.S., have permission to work in the United States, and be able to speak, read and write English fluently. Besides, you must also meet some primary military requirements  for enlistment as follows: 

  • You are at least 17-years-old and no older than 35 to apply for  Army reserves and the National Guard.
  • You have a high school diploma, though a GED certificate may suffice.
  • You pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test.
  • You are in good health.
  • You must be a college graduate if you want to become an officer
  • If you have a disqualifying condition – health problems or a criminal record, you can ask the Army to waive it. Remember that there is no cost for making the request.

Take note: You should take time to seriously prepare for your ASVAB Test. Besides, one of the leading practice platform you can visit is ASVAB Test Pro.


3. How many non-citizens serve in the U.S. military? 


According to the recent data from the Department of Defense (DOD) , more than 24,000 noncitizens were on active duty in 2012 and over 5,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) enlist into the U.S. military force each year. Furthermore, between 1999 and 2010, approximately 80,000 non-citizens joined the U.S. military force.


4. What are challenges for non-citizens in the U.S. military?


Although if you join the U.S. military as a non citizen and enlisting can speed up your path to full citizenship, until you become a full citizen, you might encounter several limitations when seeking advancements within the U.S. military. For instance, as aforementioned, federal law requires that all military officers have U.S. citizenship, which means that non-citizens can only join the military as an enlisted member.  Moreover, federal law does not allow granting of security clearance to non-citizens. That means non citizens might be limited to high level job opportunities in the force.