The lack of guidance in units for immigrant soldiers "is all intentional," Ricci said. "It's part of this overall culture of 'No.'"
The new rules have left some recruits waiting for years to serve.
Army recruit Ajay Kumar Jaina, 33, came to the United States from India in 2012 on an H-1B visa to work for Veritas Healthcare Solutions. He has a master's degree in pharmaceutical analysis and wanted to become a military pharmacist. In May 2016 he enlisted under MAVNI for his medical skills.
He's been in a holding pattern ever since. In the almost three years he's waited to go to basic training, he's reported for duty for more than 20 weekends with the 445th Quartermaster Company in Trenton, New Jersey.
He goes to New Jersey knowing that he will be unable to drill with the rest of the unit because he has not yet undergone basic training since the Defense Department has not completed his background check.
So his activities on base are limited to administration and inventory roles.
"When I registered in the Army, at that time I was told my basic training location. I was told within six months my background check would be verified, and then I could go to basic and then (advanced individual training) then I could be come apply for citizenship," Jaina said.
Jaina said no determination has been made on his background check yet. "Which is actually good!" he said. "I can wait. I can keep my hopes high."
Jaina's H-1B visa expires next month and he said he may have to go back to India in order to be able to return to the United States under a new visa as he continues to wait.
Eaton questioned why the Defense Department would make it more difficult to pull from eligible immigrant recruits, particularly in light of the recruiting challenges the military faces overall.