State Dept. Announces End to Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program, Seeks Extension
The Department of State has announced that it expects to finish issuing all 3,000 visas for fiscal year 2014 under a special program for Afghans by July 2014. The agency’s authority to issue special immigrant visas (SIVs) to Afghan nationals under the Afghan Allies Protection Act, as amended, is limited to 3,000 visas for Afghan principal applicants in fiscal year 2014.
The Department said, “We welcome action by Congress to extend this program. We are making arrangements to quickly resume issuances of SIVs to Afghan principal applicants if more visas are allocated.” In an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times on June 3, 2014, Secretary of State John Kerry pleaded for more visas “to help Afghans whose work for the U.S. Government put them in danger of retaliation.” He said, “Keeping our word requires passing legislation this summer to authorize additional visas for the remainder of this fiscal year and for the next fiscal year. We don’t want to lose the hard-won momentum or put lives at risk.”
More than 9,000 Afghans who have worked for the United States in Afghanistan (and their family members) have benefited from the SIV program. Of these, more than 70 percent served as translators, with the vast majority serving U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. Over 6,000 Afghans, mainly interpreters and their family members, have received SIVs since October 1, 2013. This includes just over 2,300 principal applicants and 3,700 of their family members.