How To Become A Cultural Advisor Through The Navy MAVNI Program

Navy MAVNI Program

Since the founding of our nation, foreign nationals and immigrants have fought alongside Sailors in the United States Navy. In days past, the Navy only accepted applicants with a lawful permanent residence status.

For Fiscal Year 2016-2017, the Secretary of Defense has authorized the Navy to recruit legal, non-immigrant aliens, with special languages and cultural backgrounds to fill billets within Naval Special Operations.

The Enlisted Goaling letter for FY16 provides a limited number of MAVNI slots for Sailors to serve as Navy Cultural Advisors.

The Navy’s ability to effectively communicate is crucial, in order to partner with host nations and their citizens. During recent conflicts, the Navy has been forced to rely on the contributions of contractors and local sources. In an effort to better sustain its force, the US Navy is actively seeking qualified MAVNI applicants to serve within the role of a Cultural Advisor.

Those selected will be able to contribute by:

  • Applying your language and cultural expertise
  • Using your familiarity with local customs and social norms
  • Cultivating and establishing trusted relationships
  • Identifying and avoiding culturally insensitive miscues

Depending on the success of the program, the Naval Special Warfare Command may request additional ratings to be authorized for the FY17 MAVNI program.

Eligibility Requirements

Male and Female applicants must meet all basic eligibility requirements in Volume II, Chapter 2 of reference (d) and the following criteria:

Click here read the entire instruction on the FY16 Navy MAVNI Instruction.

  1. Education. Must be a High School Graduate. Applicants with foreign educational credentials require an education evaluation by the local Education Services Specialist.
  2. Foreign Military Service. Applicant with any history of foreign military service will require prior approval.
  3. Service Component. The NAVY MAVNI program is only open for Active Duty applicants.
  4. ASVAB. Applicants are required to obtain a 50 or higher on the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
  5. Conduct. MAVNI applicants must meet all conduct requirements for basic enlistment eligibility.
  6. Drug Use. Must meet screening criteria for entry into HM rating
  7. Dependency. Meet Active Duty dependency requirements as stated in reference (d)
  8. Residency Status. Must have a valid and unexpired visa issued by USCIS, that expires after applicants enlistment date.
    • Visas issued to asylees, refugees, and aliens admitted under temporary protected status, or for non-immigrant categories E, F, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, TC, TD, TN, U, or V are acceptable for enlistment
    • Must have maintained residency in the United States in an eligible visa status for a minimum of two years prior to the date of contracting into the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Must not have had a single absence of more than 90 days during the two-year period prior.
    • Applicants with five or more trips outside of the US, of any duration, during the two-year period immediately preceding the date of enlistment require prior approval before processing.
    • Applicants current residency/visa status must be verified prior to processing. A USCIS Form G-845, will be used to request the verification.
  9. Background Screening. Applicants must complete the MAVNI screening questionnaire, in their own hand writing and provide a full length, selection board quality photo.
  10. Initial Fitness Assessment. All MAVNI applicants must pass an IFA.
  11. Financial Screening. All MAVNI applicants must complete an Enlistee Financial Statement.
  12. Social Security Number. Applicants must have a valid social security card issued by the Social Security Administration in their possession at the time of initial processing.
  13. Enlistment Name. Applicants must enlist with the name on their USCIS visa. The SSN card must match the name listed on their visa.
  14. Foreign Language Proficiency. MAVNI applicants must demonstrate language proficiency at the 2+/2+ level on the Oral Proficiency Interview.
  15. English Language Proficiency. Applicants must have the ability to read, speak, and understand the English language.

Open Cultural Background & Language Proficiency

The Navy currently requires MAVNI applicants with the following languages:

Albanian, Arabic, Bahasa, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Dhivehi, French, Farsi, Greek, Hindi, Igbo, Korean, Krio, Hausa, Russian, Malay, Pashto, Punjabi, Serbian, Somali, Swahili, Urdu, Thai or Yoruba.

Current needs require significant cultural expertise and fluency resulting from extended residence in one of the following countries: Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Cameroon, Chad,* Greece, Gulf Cooperation Council nations, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Korea, Libya, Maldives, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Serbia, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia or Yemen.

The list is not in a priority order, all backgrounds and languages are equally relevant. The Naval Special Warfare Command will update the list as needed.

How To Process For The Navy MAVNI Program

In order to ensure that your process runs smoothly we recommend the following actions:

  1. Locate a Navy MAVNI Recruiter by visiting:, then contact to schedule an initial screening interview.
  2. Inform the Recruiter that you are interested in receiving information about the Navy MAVNI program, recommend that they read the Navy MAVNI Instruction and contact for support.
  3. Bring the following documents to the interview:
    • Visa
    • USCIS Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record
    • Social Security Card
    • Immigration Documents
    • Birth Certificate
    • Passport
    • HS Diploma (to include transcripts if possible)
    • College Degree (or transcripts)
  4. During the interview be open an honest with the Recruiter. He/She will conduct a standard interview to determine your eligibility. Remember, the Recruiter is clueless, as this is still a new program. If you’re looking for a smoother process consider looking into the MAVNI Program for the Army.
  5. Be prepared to take the Enlistment Screening Test. All applicants for the MAVNI program are required to achieve a minimum score of 50 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) to be eligible for enlistment. The EST a 20-30 minute test used by recruiters to screen service applicants for potential failure and to predict the AFQT score.
  6. Be prepared to document your residency status. Recruiters will seek to confirm that you’ve been inside the country for a two years, with absences of less than 90 days.
  7. Next, the recruiter will reach out to their command to seek approval to continue processing, validate your enlistment documents, process a G-845, determine vacancies and perform a background check.
  8. If approved, you will be scheduled for an OPI. Remember you need a 2+/2+ in order to continue processing.

Training Path to Become A Navy Cultural Advisor

The path to becoming a Cultural Advisor in the Navy begins at Recruit Training (Boot Camp) and continues with an array of advanced training courses. Altogether, the training process takes approximately one year (52 weeks).

All Cultural Advisor training consists of group, field and modular instruction in both the classroom and practical environments. Here’s a look at the overall training process and the specific schools you can expect to attend along the way.


Term of Enlistment

All NAVY MAVNI applicants will automatically incur a minimum eight-year Military Service Obligation (MSO). The MSO consist of a minimum of five years of active duty service, with the remaining service commitment in the Individual Ready Reserves (IRR).

Members who successfully complete the naturalization process during their initial active duty service period may enlist or extend their active duty period and may be separated at the end of their initial active duty obligated service period.

Questions about the FY16 Navy MAVNI Program may be referred to YN1 Terral Shouse or via email at

About the Author MSG Washington

MSG Washington has served within the ranks of the United States Army since June of 2001. With ten years of recruiting experience, he is an expert on Recruiting Operations, who willingly assists applicants across the Country with their enlistment process.

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