Foreign nationals who wish to serve in the U.S. armed forces still will be able to do so, but the criteria they must meet have become much more stringent.

The initial screening for what the Pentagon refers to as Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) must be completed before they are allowed to enlist in the active or reserve services or National Guard. Also, such persons who seek expedited naturalization must obtain certifications of honorable service.

Until the Pentagon announced the change on Oct. 13, Lawful Permanent Residents could enter basic training as long as their background investigations were underway and in progress. Also, such persons were credited with a certification of honorable service after one day of actual service. They then could use the certification to speed up their naturalization process.

According to the new guidelines, foreign nationals must:

* Complete all security and suitability requirements and receive a favorable military security suitability determination (MSSD),
* Complete initial training required by the branch of service they are joining.
* Complete at least 180 days of consecutive active service, or one year of satisfactory service in the selected reserve.

“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to wait to give a characterization of service for everybody else at 180 days, but for non-U.S. citizens, we would be granting a characterization well short of 180 days,” said Stephanie Miller, DoD’s chief of accessions.

Lawful Permanent Residents now serving or in the Delayed Entry Program must complete all of the new requirements before they will be allowed to wear the uniform. The Defense Department is pulling the certifications of honorable service for all Lawful Permanent Residents now on duty, or planning to join under delayed entry, until they complete all of the new security and suitability screening requirements.

Should investigations uncover any “derogatory information,” the Pentagon will refer such material to a “designated office of responsibility,” according to the directive. The office then would make a decision regarding suitability for service within 90 days.