On January 31, 2019, the ACLU of New Hampshire’s Immigrants’ Rights Project filed a lawsuit on behalf of United States Army Specialist Hiren Korat, a general dentist originally from India. Spc. Korat enlisted in the U.S. Army through a specialized military program that aims to recruit skilled immigrants in exchange for expediting the citizenship process. Now, after having served honorably in the Army for more than two years with commendations from his superiors and peers, Spc. Korat is no closer to citizenship.
Mr. Korat fulfilled his end of the bargain, but the United State government has not. The government's actions with respect to our client's rightful application for citizenship are arbitrary, unfair, and unlawful. The ACLU-NH's lawsuit asks the government to right this wrong and make good on its promise to naturalize a soldier who is selflessly serving this country.
The program, run through the Department of Defense and called the Military Accessions Vital to National Interest (MAVNI), recruits immigrants like Spc. Korat who have demonstrated medical or language skills that the military has deemed vital to the nation's defense. Spc. Korat, who submitted his application for citizenship in July 2017, is entitled to become a citizen without delay. Similar citizenship applications through this program have been processed and completed in less than one month.
Despite the fact that he meets all of the eligibility requirements, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services has refused to consider his application. Spc. Korat's dream, to become an oral surgeon in the Army, is strictly regulated and only open to those who are citizens, which he cannot attain due to the delay. His Commanding Officer states that Spc. Korat has “demonstrated the skills, dedication, and moral character of a good soldier” and is “an important member of [the] unit and his education and skills are highly sought after in the U.S. Army.”
On August 16, 2019, in a major victory, Spc. Korat was naturalized, thereby giving him the ability to serve his country and live in New Hampshire as a citizen.