SIV Program for Iraqis set to expire end of September
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 13, 2013
With the House rejecting the Senate’s immigration reform bill Wednesday the SIV Program for Iraqi nationals is set to expire at the end of September, while the program for Afghan nationals will expire at the end of September 2014. The program has run slowly since the start in 2008 with only 22 percent of the visas allotted to Iraqis and 15 percent to Afghans having been issued. An article in the Air Force Times has the story:
A law providing special visas to Iraqi and Afghan nationals in danger for helping the U.S. military suffered a blow when the House rejected the Senate’s immigration reform bill Wednesday.
Many of the refugees and their families face grave threats in their homelands as a result of their U.S. government affiliation, and thousands have been killed by their own countrymen, advocacy groups say.
In 2008, Congress passed legislation providing Iraqi and Afghan refugees who assisted the U.S. with special immigrant visas. This included contractors, translators and guides. The 5,000 visas allotted annually to Iraqis are set to expire at the end of September, while the 1,500 visas allotted annually to Afghans will expire in September 2014. The immigration bill would make the visas available until September 2018.
Only 50 special visas are allotted annually for Iraqi and Afghan translators. But in fiscal 2007 and 2008, an amendment to the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act allotted 500 visas for translators.
From fiscal year 2008 to March 2013, 11,647 visas have been allotted to Iraqi and Afghan refugees and 1,693 to translators, according to State Department data…
With the immigration reform bill stalled, advocacy efforts have focused on pushing through the visa provision by other means, Nystrom said.
The provision has also been attached to the Senate and House’s National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014.
The versions differ slightly in eligibility and the number of visas allotted, but the major difference in the authorization bill is that visas for Iraqis are only extended to 2014…
Only 22 percent of the visas allotted to Iraqis and 15 percent to Afghans have been issued, according to State Department data… Read more here