LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) UNL student Ching Long Kong moved to the United States when he was six years old. His family owns a Chinese restaurant in Falls City, NE.
Kong currently has a student visa, while his parents are living here with a work visa. Kong is joining the U.S. Army through what's called the MAVNI program.
Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) is a recruiting program that allows legal non-citizens with in-demand skills to join the Army in exchange for expedited U.S. citizenship.
Kong said, "With this program, it definitely really helps me. I always thought about just staying in America and never wanting to move back to China."
Sargent First Class Josey Huffman said, "Basically if you're a legal U.S. resident. Student visas are usually pretty popular work visas and things of that nature. If you've been in the country for two years without a break for more than 90 consecutive days, you qualify for this program to enlist in the U.S. Army."
People who join the Army through the MAVNI program are able to move from non-immigrant visa or asylee/refugee/Temporary Protected Status (TPS) directly to citizenship. In most cases participants in the program will become naturalized U.S. citizens by the time they graduate from ten weeks of Basic Combat Training or accept a commission as Army Officers.
Kong said, "It's a great opportunity for me to serve the country I claim as my own. Also, it's a great opportunity for me to get the status to be a citizen of the country I've been living in a majority of my life."