US Army Offering Fast Track to Citizenship for Immigrants with Special Skills

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — While Congress debates immigration policy, the Army is offering a fast path to U.S. citizenship for some legal immigrants if they can fill certain critical jobs.

One of them is 23-year-old Carolyne Chelulei from Kenya, who went to the University of South Carolina Upstate on a student visa and joined the Army as a medical worker.

She is one of several hundred immigrants with temporary visas whose specialized skills make them eligible for a Pentagon program that repays service in uniform with an accelerated path to citizenship.

The Army began the program on a trial basis in 2009. Maj. Carol Stahl, the program’s manager, said it reopened in September 2012 and since then has enlisted 451 linguists with 28 different languages, 19 dentists and three physicians.

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