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How to Join the U.S. Army If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen

by Tom Streissguth, studioD

If you're ready to serve your adopted country, the military enlistment process begins with legal residency in the United States. Citizenship is not a requirement, but there are several other conditions of military service that non-citizens must meet before joining up. If you meet these conditions, the Army recruiting process is the same as it would be for a citizen.

Ensure that you are a legal permanent resident of the United States. You must hold a Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card, formerly known as a "green card." The card is issued on application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You can't enlist in the military if you are a temporary legal resident, or if you do not have legal status with the USCIS. The Army will not assist you with immigration services or paperwork.

Apply online through the GoArmy website. To complete this process, you must register and create an account with the GoArmy website. You must also fill out a questionnaire, browse a list of available openings, select the openings that interest you, and submit this preliminary information. An Army recruiter will then contact you to discuss your options.

Meet a recruiter, who will complete the initial application with a review of your medical and educational history, go over any arrest records or criminal charges, weigh you to ensure you meet the basic physical requirements, and put you through a short on-screen version of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. You can request a specific job at this stage of the process. Whether you are accepted depends on your ASVAB and other aptitude test scores. Bring your green card to this interview to prove legal residency.

Take and pass the ASVAB test. This is a timed aptitude test that is a basic pre-requisite for service in any branch of the military. The ASVAB covers arithmetic reasoning, mathematics knowledge, word knowledge and paragraph comprehension. The Armed Forces Qualifying Test score that you generate from the ASVAB and other preliminary screens will be used to either accept or deny your enlistment. After passing the ASVAB, report to the Military Enlistment Processing Station where you are assigned in order to pass a physical and complete the enlistment paperwork.

Items you will need
  •  Permanent Resident Card
  •  English fluency
  •  High school diploma


  • The Army disqualifies all applicants with felony or drug charges, as well as those who don't meet the weight requirements. A high school diploma is also required.
  • You can prepare for application to the military by taking sample ASVAB tests available on the Military.com website.
  • You may not be required to take the ASVAB if you've already passed it prior to contacting the Army to enlist.

About the Author

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

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