About 20,000 Afghans worked as interpreters for U.S. forces in the twenty years after the 9/11 attack. The Taliban, after taking over Afghanistan, have retaliated against those who worked for allied countries. The Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) helps those who helped our military get out of the country with their immediate family. If you’re seeking an SIV for a family member or former colleague, Carman Fullerton can help.
Afghanistan is a Dangerous and Unpredictable Place for Those Who Helped Foreign Troops
The Taliban is having a hard time switching from a guerilla force overthrowing a government to governing, reports the New York Times. There are many ethnic groups (some historically targeted by the Taliban) that they must rule over. The country no longer receives foreign aid as it did in the past, so its medical system barely functions. A terrorist group even more extreme than the Taliban, ISIS-K, is involved in an armed revolt.
For those still in the country who aided the U.S. in the past, there are also well-founded fears that the Taliban isn’t living up to its promises not to retaliate against those who worked with foreign militaries. One former translator for UK troops who lives there now reports that Taliban soldiers told his father-in-law to call the translator and demand that he return, but they would cut his head off if he did. They fled the area after soldiers returned and threatened to kidnap family members if his father-in-law didn’t cooperate.
How to Get a Special Immigrant Visa for Afghan Refugees
Thousands of Visas are Available, but Applicants Must Get Through the Process.
The federal Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act was enacted in July 2021, creating 8,000 more SIVs for Afghans. This increases the total to 34,500 visas allocated since December 2014, according to the US Department of State. The program will end when all visas are issued, but the limit doesn’t include the applicant’s spouse and unmarried children younger than 21. The person must apply no later than December 31, 2023, assuming the number of visas hasn’t been exhausted by then.
Section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 authorizes the issuing of SIVs to Afghan nationals if they meet its requirements. They must have been employed in Afghanistan by or on behalf of the U.S. government, or by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) or a successor mission.
What is the SIV Process?
If they worked for the ISAF or a successor, they would have had to have:
- Served as an interpreter or translator for U.S. military personnel
- While traveling off-base with U.S. military personnel stationed at ISAF or
- Performed activities for the U.S. military personnel stationed at ISAF
- For a minimum of one year at some point between October 7, 2001 and December 23, 2023
- Experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat because of this employment.
The applicant must prove they provided “faithful and valuable service” to the U.S. government, ISAF, or a successor mission. This needs to be documented in a positive letter of recommendation or evaluation from:
- A senior supervisor, or
- The person currently occupying that position, or
- A more senior person if the senior supervisor left the employer or Afghanistan.
An applicant needs to fill out an I-360 petition form and submit it to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
This program is separate from another SIV program allowing some Iraqi and Afghan translators who worked directly with US Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority to come into the country, though a person may qualify for both.
After an SIV is granted and the individual or family is approved for resettlement, they may get help with transportation, social services, and other benefits, according to the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. The process is similar to that for refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).
If You Cannot Get an SIV for Afghan Translators, There May Be Another Option
Translators May Get Priority as Refugees
Under USRAP, Afghans who don’t qualify for an SIV may enter the U.S. as refugees because the Department of State made them a P-2 priority in August. This covers Afghans who lack the required employment or who didn’t work long enough to become eligible. Those covered include those who work or worked . . .
- As locally-employed interpreters/translators for the U.S. Government, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or Resolute Support
- For a U.S.-funded program or project supported by a U.S. government grant or cooperative agreement
- For a U.S.-based media organization or non-governmental organization.
Afghans and their spouses and children of any age, married or unmarried, can be referred to the P-2 program by a U.S. government agency. Non-governmental organizations (NGO) and media organizations not funded by the U.S. government but headquartered in the U.S. can refer Afghans to the program by their most senior U.S. citizen employee.
Get an SIV for Afghan Translators With the Help of Carman Fullerton
A Kentucky visa lawyer at Carman Fullerton can help with all types of visas, including an SIV, or guide you through the refugee application process. Afghanistan is a violent and unsettled place, and we understand you want to help someone who truly needs it. We know this person is close to you, and that their future and that of their family is at risk. They must receive effective legal representation to get the best chances of success.
We help immigrants resolve complex immigration legal matters. Contact a Carman Fullerton visa attorney at (859) 971-0060 for an initial consultation so we can talk about your situation. We value immigrants, and we are here to serve you.
Attorney Kirby J. Fullerton
Mr. Fullerton’s practice is focused on immigration law. He speaks Spanish, and represents clients in cases before the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He began his career practicing criminal defense, and understands how matters in criminal courts can affect a client’s immigration status. [Attorney Bio]