Which military ranks in the U.S.A. can be held by non-citizens?

Might it be everyone except commissioned officers?

1 Answer 1


Might it be everyone except commissioned officers?

Not necessarily

Non-commissioned ranks require either a Green Card as per Title 10 U.S. Code § 504:

(1)A person may be enlisted in any armed force only if the person is one of the following:


  • (B)An alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined in section 101(a)(20) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(20)).


(2) ... the Secretary concerned may authorize the enlistment of a person not described in paragraph (1) if the Secretary determines that such person possesses a critical skill or expertise—

  • (A)that is vital to the national interest; and
  • (B)that the person will use in the primary daily duties of that person as a member of the armed forces.

And Title 10 U.S. Code § 532 states that non-citizens cannot hold a commission:

  • (a) ... a commissioned officer (other than as a commissioned warrant officer) in the Regular Army, Regular Navy, Regular Air Force, Regular Marine Corps, or Regular Space Force may be given only to a person who—

(1)is a citizen of the United States...

UNLESS they have a Green Card and a waiver:

  • (f)The Secretary of Defense may waive the requirement of paragraph (1) of subsection (a) with respect to a person who has been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence, or for a United States national otherwise eligible for appointment as a cadet or midshipman under section 2107(a) of this title or as a cadet under section 2107a of this title, when the Secretary determines that the national security so requires, but only for an original appointment in a grade below the grade of major or lieutenant commander.
  • The actual wording is "an original appointment as a commissioned officer ... may be given", also it applies to the Regular military branches (not Reserve officers). The difference is that the law is framed in terms of "allowing" the military to make the original appointment, as opposed to something about the candidate. A promotion or demotion is not an original appointment.
    – user6726
    Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 18:23
  • 1
    This DoD report says that warrant officers must be citizens as well (see page 6). However I couldn't find such a provision in the statute. It's possible the law has changed since the article was written in 2005. Commented Aug 12, 2021 at 18:40

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