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  • Writer's pictureJavier Vega

What are the requirements for the SIV for Afghans?

Updated: Oct 25, 2021

Since August 14 2021, around 13,000 people - mostly Afghans - have been evacuated from Kabul airport by multinational effort, acording to UNHCR.

Image source: Teheran Times



WHAT IS THE SPECIAL INMIGRATION VISA?


On August 31 2021, U.S. and Western troops in Afghanistan withdrew from the territory after a 20 year old ongoing war that started after the September 11 terrorist attacks, and has cost more than 241,000 lives and 2 trillion dolars.


During this long war effort, many Afghan citizens, who provided diverce services to the U.S. government, are now facing possible retaliations from the Taliban regime, making it impossible to continue their normal lives in their country.


On behalf of these citizens, the Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, published in July 2021, authorized 8,000 additional Special Inmigration Visas for Afghan applicants, for a total of 34,500 visas allocated since December 2014.


This visa is part of The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, an immigrant program that seeks to protect Afghan nationals who meet certain requirements and who were employed in Afghanistan.


WHO CAN APPLY?


Similar to previous conflicts such as Vietnam (1954–1975) and Iraq (2002–2011), individuals who aid the United States in specific capacities are eligible for SIVs, which allow qualified people to emmigrate to the United States.


Nowadays, those Afghan nationals (only Afghan citizens) that provided services or perform activities on behalf of the US government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) may apply to this visa. This is also available to those who serve as interpreters or translators for these government branches.


Since July 31 2021, the applicants must have at least been employed for a minimum of one year since October 2001 and must also have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of their employment


You must have a faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government or ISAF. This must be documented in a positive letter of recommendation or evaluation from your senior supervisor or the person currently occupying that position. It can also be provided by a more senior person if the employer has left Afghanistan.


The deadline to apply for this visa is December 32, 2023.



BENEFITS


As an SIV recipient, you will have Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status upon admission into the United States. Once you are admitted to the United States you will be mailed your Permanent Resident Card (also known as the Green Card). You are normally eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after residing for five (5) years in the United States.


Also, Afghan SIV recipients are eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).


This visa can also benefit spouses and their children, under the age of 21.


What is the biggest challenge?


"One of the most difficult steps is securing the necessary letters of recommendation from U.S. military personnel and military contractors with whom they worked, especially if those “sponsors” moved out of Afghanistan or left the armed forces," says Daniel F. Runde from the Center of Strategic and International Studies during an interview with CNN.


In Afghanistan, organizations like "No One Left Behind", a nonprofit group focused on SIVs, has continued to coordinate efforts to acquire letters and send them to the State Department despite changing events.


What has been done to evacuate SIV applicants in Afghanistan?


No One Left Behind, and non-profit organization, offered to purchase plane tickets for Afghans who had been approved through the SIV process to accelerate their departure. Otherwise, SIV holders were set to wait up to three to five months for the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration to schedule their flights.


What happens to others?


The international community has called on the United States to extend the SIV mandate (or other forms of immediate protection) to vulnerable groups of Afghans, including journalists, humanitarian workers, activists, and children. There is a significant concern for women and girls, who are in inmediate risk of losing human rights, such as education and work.



Disclaimer: This article doesn't constitute any legal advice. If you wish to get any legal consultation please contact The Allongo Law Firm.



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