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Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant visa programs.

Contents

Introduction
Legislative History of the Special Immigrant Category
Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans
  Aliens Who Worked as Translators or Interpreters
  Aliens Who Worked for the U.S. Government
Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Application Process
Comparison of Special Immigrants to Other Selected Admissions
Categories
  Refugees
    Resettlement Assistance and Federal Public Benefits
  Amerasian Children
Special Immigrant Visa Statistics
Selected Challenges
  Application Processing
  Security Concerns
  Visa Availability
Conclusion

Tables

Table 1. Comparison of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa
  Programs
Table 2. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators and
  Interpreters
Table 3. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans Who Worked
  for the U.S. Government
Table A-1. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi Translators and
  Interpreters
Table A-2. Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan Translators and
  Interpreters
Table A-3. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis Who Worked for the U.S.
  Government
Table A-4. Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans Who Worked for the U.S.
  Government

Appendixes

Appendix. Additional Special Immigrant Data

Contacts

Author Contact Information


September 12, 2014

Summary

Congress has enacted a series of legislative provisions since 2006 to enable certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals to become U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs). These provisions make certain Iraqis and Afghans who have worked as translators or interpreters, or who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, eligible for special immigrant visas (SIVs). Special immigrants comprise a category of permanent employment-based admissions under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). While the special immigrant category is unique, it does bear some similarities to other admission categories that are authorized by other sections of the INA, including refugees and Amerasian children.

To apply under the SIV programs for Iraqis or Afghans, a prospective special immigrant must: submit a petition to the Department of Homeland Security; be otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa; and be otherwise admissible to the United States. Iraqi and Afghan SIV applicants whose petitions are approved and who are abroad are required to have an in-person visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad to determine visa eligibility. Upon admission to the United States, SIV recipients are granted LPR status. Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants are eligible for the same resettlement assistance and federal public benefits as refugees.

There are three SIV programs for Iraqi and Afghan nationals. One is a permanent program for certain Iraqis and Afghans who have worked directly with U.S. Armed Forces, or under Chief of Mission authority, for at least one year as translators or interpreters. This program is currently capped at 50 principal aliens (excluding spouses and children) per year. A total of 2,760 visas were issued to principals and dependent spouses and children under this program through FY2013. According to preliminary data, more than 100 visas have been issued under this program in FY2014 through June 30, 2014.

The other two SIV programs for Iraqis and Afghans are temporary. One program is for certain Iraqis who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq for at least one year during a specified period. It was capped at 5,000 principal aliens annually for FY2008 through FY2012 and included a provision to carry forward any unused numbers from one fiscal year to the next. It expired at the end of FY2013, but was subsequently revived. Current statutory authority provides for the issuance of no more than 2,500 visas to principal applicants after January 1, 2014. A total of 13,147 visas were issued to principals and dependents under this program through FY2013. According to preliminary data, more than 1,000 visas (including some 300 to principals) have been issued under this program in FY2014 through June 30, 2014.

There is a parallel SIV program for certain Afghans who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Afghanistan for at least one year during a specified period. It was capped at 1,500 principal aliens annually for FY2009 through FY2013, with a provision to carry forward any unused numbers from one fiscal year to the next. Current statutory authority provides for the issuance of visas to 3,000 principal aliens for FY2014 and to an additional 1,000 principal aliens by December 31, 2014. A total of 2,719 visas were issued to principals and dependents under this program through FY2013. According to preliminary data, more than 7,000 visas (including some 2,700 to principals) have been issued in FY2014 through June 30, 2014.

The Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs face challenges with respect to application processing and security screening. The structure of the SIV programs themselves, with statutory time frames and numerical limitations, introduce additional complications.

Introduction
   The hundreds of Iraqi interpreters who work for the U.S. military
   conceal their identities in distinctive ways.

   One wears a bulletproof Kevlar helmet and a black mask. Another
   wears sunglasses and a balaclava that covers his entire head.

   What they share is the extraordinary danger of their job. Targeted
   for death by insurgents, they also face suspicion from their
   employers and often lie to relatives for fear that word of their
   job will get out. (1)


This excerpt from a January 2006 article in a Michigan newspaper suggests the dangerous work that Iraqi interpreters and translators have performed in support of the U.S. war effort. Other sources similarly document the work performed by Afghan interpreters and translators. (2)

In January 2006, the 109th Congress enacted the first of a series of legislative provisions to enable certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals to become U.S. lawful permanent residents (LPRs) (3) based on their service to the U.S. government. Section 1059 of the FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act (4) made certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who had worked directly with U.S. Armed Forces as translators eligible for special immigrant visas (SIVs). Special immigrants comprise a category of permanent employment-based admissions under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). (5) Upon admission to the United States, holders of SIVs are granted LPR status. A House Judiciary Committee report on a related bill in the 109th Congress to provide special immigrant status for Iraqi and Afghan translators (H.R. 2293) described the need for the legislation, as follows:
   A number of alien translators currently working in Iraq and
   Afghanistan embedded with units of the U.S. Armed Forces are
   providing extremely valuable services. Their cooperation and close
   identification with the U.S. military have put these individuals
   and their families in danger. This danger will only escalate after
   U.S. forces leave or reduce their strength in Iraq and
   Afghanistan. (6)


Congress subsequently amended the special immigrant classification for translators to broaden it and authorized a second special immigrant classification for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who had worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, respectively.

This report analyzes the SIV classifications for Iraqis and Afghans within the context of both the larger INA special immigrant category and selected other permanent admissions categories. It discusses the legislative changes to the individual Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant programs since their initial authorization, provides statistics on visa issuances, and considers challenges facing the programs today.

Legislative History of the Special Immigrant Category

The term special immigrant is defined in Section 101(a)(27) of the INA. The definition consists of an enumeration of classifications eligible for this category, such as LPRs who are returning from a temporary stay abroad. (7) Most special immigrant classifications are subject to an annual numerical limitation. (8)

The special immigrant category was added to the INA by a 1965 immigration law, known as the 1965 amendments. (9) The INA, as originally enacted in 1952, included a predecessor category of nonquota immigrants, immigrants who could be admitted to the United States without regard to numerical limitations. In the 1952 act, these nonquota immigrants included returning LPRs, natives of Western Hemisphere countries, ministers of religion, and long-serving employees of the U.S. government abroad, among other groups. The 1965 amendments to the INA redesignated the nonquota immigrants as special immigrants and made some changes to the various classifications.

The Immigration Act of 1990 further amended the special immigrant provisions in the INA. (10) It placed the special immigrant category under a revised INA section on permanent employment-based immigration (11) and imposed an overall annual numerical limitation of 10,000 on special immigrants, with exemptions for certain classifications. (12) In addition, the 1990 act amended the existing special immigrant classifications and added several new ones. (13) A 1991 immigration act (14) changed the overall annual limitation on special immigrants from 10,000 to 7.1% of the worldwide level of employment-based immigration. (15) Subsequent laws added new special immigrant classifications.

Today the special immigrant category encompasses a hodgepodge of classifications, but there are some commonalities among the seemingly disparate groups. Many of the classifications, for example, have a humanitarian element. In another commonality, some of the classifications are directed at individuals in certain fields of work that have a public service component. These include classifications for religious workers, graduates of foreign medical school licensed to practice medicine in the United States, and international broadcasters. (16)

Particularly relevant for this report are special immigrant classifications that apply to individuals who have worked for the U.S. government. These include classifications for 15-year employees or former employees of the U.S. government abroad; nationals of Panama who are 15-year employees or former employees of the U.S. government in the former Canal Zone; and individuals who, after lawful enlistment abroad, have served or will serve on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for 12 years. (17) Some of the classifications based on U.S. government employment apply to individuals who are placed in danger because of their work. For example, there is a special immigrant classification for individuals who were employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979, who provided faithful service for at least five years, and "whose personal safety, or the personal safety of whose spouse or children, as a direct result of such Treaty, is reasonably placed in danger because of the special nature of any of that employment." (18) As discussed in the next section, the two special immigrant classifications for Iraqis and Afghans similarly apply to individuals who have performed U.S. government-related service, with one requiring the presence of a serious threat to the individual as a result of that U.S. government employment. (19)

Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans

There are two special immigrant classifications specifically for nationals of Iraq and Afghanistan: one for individuals who worked as translators or interpreters, and one for individuals who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan. These classifications, in their current form, are the product of a series of legislative enactments, which initially established the classifications and then amended them (see Table 1 for a comparison of the main features of the programs within these classifications).

In the case of the classifications for Iraqis and Afghans, a prospective special immigrant must submit a petition for classification; be otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa; and be otherwise admissible to the United States, as specified. With respect to this last requirement, in order to gain admission to the United States, an individual must be admissible under the INA. The INA sets forth various grounds of inadmissibility, which include health-related grounds, security-related grounds, and public charge (i.e., indigence). The public charge ground does not apply to applicants under the special immigrant programs for Iraqis and Afghans; thus, these applicants are not required to demonstrate economic self-sufficiency.

Aliens Who Worked as Translators or Interpreters

Section 1059 of the FY2006 National Defense Authorization Act made certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who had worked directly with U.S. Armed Forces for at least one year as translators, and their spouses and children, eligible to be classified as special immigrants. The provision capped the number of principal aliens (20) who could become special immigrants at 50 annually and provided that these individuals would count against the overall special immigrant cap (see "Legislative History of the Special Immigrant Category").

Section 1059 was amended in 2007 (21) to expand eligibility to certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who had worked directly with U.S. Armed Forces, or under Chief of Mission authority, (22) for at least one year as translators or interpreters. To be eligible for this special immigrant classification, as amended, the alien also had to obtain a favorable written recommendation from the Chief of Mission or a general or flag officer in the relevant Armed Forces unit. The 2007 legislation temporarily increased the numerical limit on this special immigrant program (to 500 for each of FY2007 and FY2008) and provided that the classification would be exempt from the overall numerical limits on special immigrants. (23) Another 2007 amendment provided that if the numerical limits were not reached in a fiscal year any remaining numbers would be carried forward to the next year. (24)

Aliens Who Worked for the U.S. Government

A second special immigrant classification for nationals of Iraq or Afghanistan and their spouses and children was established by Section 1244 of the FY2008 National Defense Authorization Act (for Iraqis) and by Title VI of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (for Afghans). (25) This classification, as subsequently amended, is for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have been employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, respectively, for at least one year during a specified period. (26) To be eligible, an alien must obtain a recommendation from a senior supervisor that documents the alien's "faithful and valuable service" and that is accompanied by approval from the Chief of Mission. In addition, an applicant must have experienced "an ongoing serious threat" as a result of his or her U.S. government employment.

The Section 1244 program for Iraqis was originally capped at 5,000 principal aliens annually for five years (later specified as FY2008-FY2012 (27)) with a provision to carry forward any unused numbers from one fiscal year to the next, including from FY2012 to FY2013. This program expired for principal aliens at the end of FY2013 (28) In October 2013, however, the 113th Congress approved an extension. For FY2014, P.L. 113-42 provides for the approval of cases that were pending when the program expired on September 30, 2013, as well as 2,000 new cases, as long as the principal aliens in the new cases filed an application with the Chief of Mission in Iraq by December 31, 2013. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (29) rewrites the extension language in P.L. 113-42 to provide for the issuance of no more than 2,500 visas to principal applicants after January 1, 2014, and to extend the application deadline to September 30, 2014 (for an overview of the application process, see "Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Application Process").

The parallel special immigrant program for Afghans was originally capped at 1,500 principal aliens annually for FY2009 through FY2013 with a provision to carry forward any unused numbers from one fiscal year to the next, including from FY2013 to FY2014. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, amends this language to provide for the granting of special immigrant visas to up to 3,000 principal aliens for FY2014 and to provide for the carrying forward and use of any unused balance for FY2014 through the end of FY2015. This law requires that principal aliens file an application with the Chief of Mission in Afghanistan by September 30, 2014 (30) (see "Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Application Process"). P.L. 113-160 (31) further amends the numerical limitations provisions under the Afghan program to add new language providing that an additional 1,000 principal aliens may be granted special immigrant status by December 31, 2014. The new language requires that principal aliens apply to the Chief of Mission no later than the same December 31, 2014, date.

As noted, since FY2009 the annual numerical limit on the Section 1059 program for translators and interpreters has been 50, well below the numerical limits on the programs for Iraqis and Afghans who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, respectively. A 2008 law (32) authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary of State to convert an approved special immigrant petition under the former program (filed before October 1, 2008) for which a visa is not immediately available to an approved petition under the latter program and subject to the numerical limits of that latter program.

Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Application Process

The process of applying for an Iraqi or Afghan special immigrant visa has multiple steps. The application process described in this section is for Iraqis and Afghans who are abroad, who represent the vast majority of applicants. (33) (An applicant in the United States whose petition for classification as a special immigrant is approved under the process described below could then submit an application to adjust status (34) along with supporting documentation; applicants in the United States do not go through the visa process.)

The first step under the programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for or on behalf of the United States is to apply for Chief of Mission approval. To apply, the principal applicant must submit documentation to the Department of State (DOS), including, among other required information, a letter from the applicant's employer confirming employment; a letter of recommendation from the applicant's direct, U.S. citizen supervisor; and a statement from the applicant describing the threats he or she received as a result of his or her U.S. government employment. If approval is granted, the applicant receives a Chief of Mission approval letter.

The next step for applicants under the special immigrant programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the United States--and the first step for applicants under the program for translators and interpreters--is to file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) along with accompanying documents. In the case of the program for those who have worked for, or on behalf of, the United States, the required documents include copies of the Chief of Mission approval letter and of the letter of recommendation from the direct supervisor. In the case of the program for those who have worked as translators or interpreters, the required documents include evidence of qualifying employment, a letter of recommendation from the Chief of Mission or a general or flag officer in the relevant U.S. Armed Forces unit, and evidence of a background check and screening by the Chief of Mission or the U.S. Armed Forces.

Petitions for classification as an Iraqi or Afghan special immigrant that are approved by USCIS are forwarded to DOS's National Visa Center (NVC), which contacts the applicant to advise him or her to begin collecting required documents. The applicant must submit forms and documents for all family members applying for visas to the NVC. In addition to the immigrant visa application, these materials include copies of passport biodata pages, birth certificates, and civil documents; police certificates, if applicable; (35) and a refugee benefits election form, indicating whether the applicant, if approved to receive a special immigrant visa, would like to participate in DOS's Reception and Placement program and receive associated benefits (see "Resettlement Assistance and Federal Public Benefits").

The NVC schedules an in-person visa interview for the principal applicant and any family members at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The interview is required to determine eligibility for a visa. Applicants' fingerprints are taken at the time of the interview. Applicants are also required to have a medical examination at their own cost. After the interview, the consular office informs the applicant about any missing documentation and about any problems with the case that may prevent issuance of a visa. Many cases require additional "administrative processing" after the interview. According to DOS, the amount of time required for administrative processing varies depending on the particular circumstances of the case, but "most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days of the visa interview." (36)

Applicants who are issued visas and who have elected to participate in DOS's resettlement program must have their travel to the United States arranged by the International Organization for Migration. Visa recipients who have elected not to participate in DOS's resettlement program are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Upon admission to the United States, SIV recipients obtain LPR status.

Comparison of Special Immigrants to Other Selected Admissions Categories

Special immigrant classifications have been established to provide for the permanent admission to the United States of specific populations. As noted, special immigrants comprise a subcategory of permanent employment-based immigrants in the INA, although they are not, in fact, admitted for employment purposes. (37) While the special immigrant category is unique, it does bear similarities to other admission categories that are authorized by other sections of the INA.

Refugees

Unlike special immigrants, refugees comprise a category of humanitarian admissions under the INA. (38) As defined in the INA, a refugee is a person who is unwilling or unable to return to his or her home country "because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion." (39) Refugees accepted for admission to the United States can be accompanied by their spouses and children. The admissions process for refugees is separate from and different than the process for immigrants. After one year in refugee status, they are required to apply to adjust to LPR status. (40) By contrast, special immigrants, like immigrants generally, are granted LPR status upon admission to the United States.

Despite the definitional and procedural differences, there is overlap between the refugee category and the special immigrant category, particularly the special immigrant classifications for Iraqis and Afghans. And the same individuals may be eligible to apply for both refugee status and for classification under one of the Iraqi or Afghan special immigrant programs. Unlike the refugee category, the special immigrant classifications for Iraqis and Afghans do not require a showing of persecution. At the same time, the statutory definitions of an eligible alien for the special immigrant programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the United States include the following: "has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of the alien's employment by the United States Government." (41)

Another similarity between the special immigrant and refugee categories concerns the element of having a connection to the United States. As noted in the preceding legislative history discussion, U.S. government service is a common feature in special immigrant classifications, including those for Iraqis and Afghans. A U.S. connection also may facilitate access to the U.S. refugee admissions program. Overseas refugee processing is conducted through a system of three priorities for admission. The priorities provide access to U.S. resettlement consideration. Priority 1, which covers refugees for whom resettlement seems to be the appropriate durable solution, applies to all nationalities and requires no connection to the United States. A U.S. connection, however, is a factor under Priorities 2 and 3, which provide more direct access to the U.S. refugee admissions program. Priority 2 covers specified groups of special humanitarian concern to the United States, which may be defined by their nationalities, clans, ethnicities, or other characteristics. A U.S. connection is a required element for some Priority 2 groups, such as Iraqis associated with the United States. Priority 3, which is limited to designated nationalities, covers family reunification cases and requires the prospective refugee to have an eligible relative in the United States.

Resettlement Assistance and Federal Public Benefits

Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants are treated like refugees for purposes of federal public benefits. Under the refugee provisions in the INA, some inadmissibility grounds are not applicable to refugees. (42) The inapplicable grounds include public charge, as is the case with Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants. Relatedly, needy refugees are eligible for resettlement assistance through programs administered by DOS and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR). Under DOS's Reception and Placement program, public and private, nonprofit entities provide new arrivals with initial resettlement services and referrals to other services, as needed. ORR's refugee resettlement programs provide transitional assistance to refugees and other designated groups. Refugees are also subject to special rules with respect to federal public benefits, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for the Aged, Blind and Disabled. (43)

While Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants are now eligible for the same federal public assistance as refugees, this was not always the case. The original law establishing the special immigrant program for Iraqi and Afghan translators included no language on eligibility for resettlement support. Subsequent laws on the Iraqi and Afghan special immigrant programs made Iraqis and Afghans eligible for refugee assistance and benefits on a time-limited basis. (44) With the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010, special immigrants from Iraq and Afghanistan became eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees and for the same periods of time. (45)

Amerasian Children

Amerasian children, like Iraqis and Afghans who have assisted the U.S. government, are the subject of special permanent admissions provisions in the INA. The Amerasian provisions have a humanitarian component, but like the special immigrant provisions, they are not a category of humanitarian admissions. Instead, Amerasian children are admitted to the United States under the permanent family-based immigration provisions of the INA (as opposed to the employment-based provisions under which special immigrants are admitted). (46) A law enacted in 1982 amended the INA to provide for the admission to the United States as family-based immigrants of individuals born in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Kampuchea (Cambodia), or Thailand between 1950 and 1982 with U.S. citizen fathers. Immigrant petitions could be filed by the individuals themselves or by another person on behalf of an eligible alien. Beneficiaries could not be accompanied to the United States by their mothers or other relatives. In the case of minors, the 1982 law required the mother or guardian to sign a written release and provided for placement of the child with a U.S. citizen or LPR sponsor.

A subsequent law enacted in 1987, as amended, eliminated some of restrictions on the immigration of Amerasian children. The 1987 law, which provided for the admission to the United States as immigrants of Vietnamese nationals born in Vietnam between 1962 and 1976 and fathered by a U.S. citizen, permitted the beneficiary to be accompanied by a mother, a spouse, and children. The 1987 law, as amended, also made the public charge ground of inadmissibility inapplicable to these aliens and made them eligible for benefits under the refugee provisions of the INA. With these changes, the treatment of this group became more similar to that of refugees and today's Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants.

Special Immigrant Visa Statistics

Through the end of FY2013, more than 18,000 individuals had been issued special immigrant visas abroad, or been adjusted to LPR status in the United States, under the special immigrant classifications for Iraqi and Afghan nationals. Principal applicants accounted for about 8,000 of the total; the others were dependent spouses and children. Table 2 provides data on the special immigrant classification for Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters. Table 3 provides data on the special immigrant classification for Iraqis and Afghans who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, respectively. The tables are mutually exclusive; an individual appears in only one table. (47) (The Appendix contains separate tables for Iraqis and Afghans for each special immigrant classification.) (48)

Selected Challenges

There is a fundamental tension in the administration of the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs between a sense of urgency to issue visas in a timely fashion to eligible individuals and a need to conduct appropriate security screening. This tension is quite sharp because on the one hand these programs are aimed at individuals who assisted the United States and face danger because of it, and on the other hand there are serious concerns that this population may pose security threats. Overlaying this dynamic is the structure of the SIV programs themselves, with statutory time frames and numerical limitations.

Application Processing

The Iraqi and Afghan SIV application process has been roundly criticized. According to a February 2014 PBS NewsHour piece on the SIV program for Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government:
   Critics describe the process of applying for a visa as opaque,
   prohibitively complicated and painfully slow, putting the
   applicant's lives at risk with each passing month that their visas
   aren't approved. (49)


In a 2010 assessment of the SIV program for Iraqis who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government, another observer characterized the application process as a series of procedural barriers and argued that it was impossible to navigate the process without English-speaking legal assistance. (50) Anecdotal reports describe years-long waits for approval, layers of bureaucracy, and unexpected denials. (51)

DOS has acknowledged past problems processing Afghan SIV applications but cites changes to improve the efficiency of the system. In the PBS NewsHour piece, Jarrett Blanc, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, identified the need for approval by the Chief of Mission committee in the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a "key bottleneck at the start of the process" that has been addressed. According to Blanc, by increasing the number of committees handling cases, applications can now be reviewed within two weeks of filing. (52)

Other changes to the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs implemented by DOS to decrease processing times were enumerated by Janice Jacobs, Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, in written testimony for a July 2011 Senate hearing:
   We no longer require documentation that we found to be redundant;
   we have decreased the amount of paperwork that must be submitted by
   mail in favor of electronic submissions; and we have reorganized
   internal procedures so that the process moves faster. (53)


Incomplete applications also present problems. In response to questions on the SIV program for Iraqis who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government following an October 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, DHS referred to obstacles faced by SIV applicants in preparing their applications. The cited obstacles included difficulties obtaining a recommendation from a supervisor and a copy of the work contract. (54) In his comments on the parallel Afghan SIV program for the PBS NewsHour piece, Blanc argued that the Afghan applicants share responsibility for the processing delays by failing to submit all the necessary paperwork. (55)

The Department of Homeland Security reported at a December 2012 House Homeland Security Committee hearing that it takes between three and ten days, on average, to process an Iraqi or Afghan SIV petition. (56) The department indicated in response to a question following the October 2011 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that it did not need additional resources to expedite SIV petition processing (57) (see "Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Application Process").

The 113th Congress has enacted legislation to amend the SIV programs for Afghans and Iraqis who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government to address application processing-related concerns. P.L. 113-66 establishes a review process for denial of Chief of Mission approval under each program. More generally, this law directs the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to make changes to the processing of applications under each program such that "all steps ... incidental to the issuance of such visas, including required screenings and background checks, should be completed not later than 9 months after the date on which an eligible alien submits all required materials to complete an application for such visa." At the same time, P.L. 113-66 includes an exception to the nine-month limit in "high-risk cases for which satisfaction of national security concerns requires additional time." It also requires the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, to report to Congress on the implementation of SIV application processing changes. (58)

Security Concerns

As suggested by the "high-risk cases" language cited in the preceding section, protecting U.S. national security remains a major concern about the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs. Iraqi and Afghan SIV applicants are subject to security checks conducted by DHS and DOS, a process that involves coordination with other agencies. These security checks were briefly summarized by a USCIS official at the December 2012 House Homeland Security Committee:
   [When processing an SIV petition], USCIS conducts a biographic
   security check through DHS's TECS (formerly known as the Treasury
   Enforcement Communications System).... If USCIS approves a SIV
   petition for an alien living outside the United States, USCIS
   forwards the case to the State Department's National Visa
   Center.... Prior to issuing the SIV, the State Department conducts
   additional biographic and biometric security checks--the same
   security vetting regime employed by the [U.S. refugee admissions
   program]. (59)


Details of the security review process are not publicly available. At the July 2011 Senate hearing, Jacobs said, "While we cannot discuss specifics for security reasons, SIV applicants from Iraq as well as Afghanistan undergo multiple layers of review." (60)

In written responses to questions following an April 2013 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary of State John Kerry identified the interagency security screening process as one of the "major obstacles" to the quick processing of Afghan SIV applications. Indicating that security screening "takes the most time," he offered that "the Department of State is working constantly with our interagency counterparts to streamline this comprehensive and essential process while eliminating bottlenecks." (61)

Scrutiny of the security review process for Iraqi and Afghan SIV applicants increased in 2011 following the arrest on terrorism changes of two Iraqi nationals who had entered the United States through the U.S. refugee program. The potential security risks posed by prospective refugees and special immigrants from Iraq and elsewhere were discussed at the December 2012 House hearing cited above, which was entitled Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Programs. At the hearing, then-DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Analysis Dawn Scalici described U.S. government efforts to identify potential threats:
   When we look at on [sic] the potential in the future for terrorist
   groups to exploit the refugee program, we do have concerns. Hence,
   we have the enhanced security and vetting procedures.... I will
   tell you that we have intelligence-driven processes regardless of
   the immigration program that a terrorist actor may seek to use or
   just travel to the United States. We are reviewing intelligence on
   a regular basis, sharing that with interagency partners and
   developing the procedures by which we can help to identify and
   further [screen] individuals of concern. (62)


Visa Availability

As discussed, the SIV program for Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters is ongoing, while the programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government are temporary. As of this writing, the temporary Afghan program is scheduled to end when all the available visas are issued or at the close of FY2015 (whichever is earlier), and the temporary Iraqi program is scheduled to end when all the available visas are issued.

Each of the three SIV programs, as originally established, was subject to statutory numerical limitations. (63) The numerical limitations language in the statutes creating the programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government also provided for the carryover of unused visas from a given fiscal year to the next during a specified period (see "Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans").

In the case of the program for Iraqis who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government, as amended, any of the 5,000 visas made available annually for principal aliens for FY2008 through FY2012 that were not used in a given fiscal year were carried forward to the next fiscal year, with unused visas for FY2012 carried forward to FY2013. Visas that were carried forward but not used in that next fiscal year were lost. At the end of FY2013, the Iraqi program ended and any remaining visas were lost. The program was subsequently revived and new visas were authorized. Currently, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2014 provides for the issuance of 2,500 visas to principal aliens under the Iraqi program after January 1, 2014. This law requires that applications be filed by September 30, 2014, but includes no deadline for issuance of the visas.

Under the program for Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government, as originally authorized, any of the 1,500 visas made available annually for principal aliens for FY2009 through FY2013 that were not used in a given fiscal year were carried forward to the next fiscal year. As under the Iraqi program, carried-over visas that are not used in the second fiscal year are lost. Currently, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, provides for the issuance of 3,000 visas to principal aliens for FY2014 and for the carrying forward of any unused balance for issuance in FY2015. The application deadline is September 30, 2014. P.L. 113-160 further provides for the issuance of 1,000 additional visas to principal aliens by December 31, 2014. The application deadline is December 31, 2014.

The SIV program for translators and interpreters is capped at 50 visas for principal aliens per year. It has been capped at this level each year except for FY2007 and FY2008, when the cap stood at 500. This program did not originally include carryover provisions, but such language was later added by amendment. As under the other SIV programs, visas that are carried forward but not used in the next fiscal year are lost.

Consideration of these numerical limitation and carryover provisions, in conjunction with the visa issuance data for the SIV programs for Iraqis and Afghans who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government (in Table A-3 and Table A-4 in the Appendix), indicates that thousands of visas provided for these two programs are no longer available. As shown in the tables, visa issuances under these programs have consistently been well below the statutory limits.

Conclusion

There seems to be broad agreement that the United States should permanently admit Iraqis and Afghans who assisted the U.S. government overseas, provided that they do not pose security risks. Yet implementing the SIV programs intended to accomplish this has proven difficult. In past years, visa issuances under the SIV programs for Iraqis and Afghans who worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government have fallen well below the statutory ceilings, particularly in the case of the Afghan program. Preliminary data from DOS, however, indicate that visa issuances under the Afghan program have increased in FY2014, with some 2,700 visas issued to principal aliens and some 4,300 visas issued to dependents through June 30, 2014. Currently, the program for Afghans who worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government is scheduled to expire by the end of FY2015, while the parallel program for Iraqis is scheduled to expire when all the allotted visas have been issued. Given the seeming consensus that the U.S. government should assist its Iraqi and Afghan employees in need, a question for Congress is whether the existing SIV provisions are sufficient to accomplish this, or whether further extensions of the temporary SIV programs for Iraqis and Afghans who worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government, or other changes to the SIV provisions are warranted.

Appendix. Additional Special Immigrant Data

Iraqi and Afghan Translators and Interpreters

Table A-1 provides data on Iraqi nationals who were issued special immigrant visas, or who adjusted to LPR status in the United States, under the special immigrant program for translators and interpreters. Table A-2 provides comparable data for Afghan nationals. These tables exclude a total of 24 dependents who received a special immigrant visa or adjusted status under this program and are Iraqi or Afghan nationals but were born in a third country. (64) The significant decreases in both tables after FY2008 reflect changes in the numerical limitations on this classification (see "Aliens Who Worked as Translators or Interpreters").
Table A-1. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi Translators and
Interpreters

Fiscal Year   Principals   Dependents   Total

2007                 437          387     824
2008                 353          327     680
2009                  30           38      68
2010                  13           40      53
2011                   8           32      40
2012                   7           29      36
2013                   5           11      16
Totals               853          864   1,717

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals classified as special immigrants
who adjusted to LPR status in the United States; the data do not
include dependents born in a country other than Iraq.

Table A-2. Special Immigrant Visas for Afghan Translators and
Interpreters

Fiscal Year   Principals   Dependents   Total

2007                100           69      169
2008                206          220      426
2009                 21           30       51
2010                 30           43       73
2011                 34           53       87
2012                 57           61      118
2013                 27           68       95
Totals              475          544    1,019

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals classified as special immigrants
who adjusted to LPR status in the United States; the data do not
include dependents born in a country other than Afghanistan.


Iraqis and Afghans Who Worked for the U.S. Government

Table A-3 provides data on Iraqi nationals who were issued special immigrant visas, or who adjusted to LPR status in the United States, under the special immigrant program for Iraqis who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq. Table A-4 provides comparable data for Afghan nationals under the special immigrant program for Afghans who were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Afghanistan. These tables exclude a total of 169 dependents who received a special immigrant visa or adjusted status under one of these programs and are Iraqi or Afghan nationals, but who were born in a third country. (65)

These tables reveal year-to-year variability in visa issuances, along with notably higher issuance levels in FY2013 (and FY2012, in the case of the Iraqi program) than in most earlier years. In an opinion piece in USA Today, in which he seemed to be discussing all the Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs, Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy attributed the recent uptick in visa issuances to "an increase in resources to improve efficiency," generally referencing "important improvements to the SIV application process" (66) (see "Application Processing").
Table A-3. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis Who Worked for the U.S.
Government

Fiscal Year   Principals   Dependents    Total

2008                 172          125      297
2009               1,418        1,347    2,765
2010                 940        1,051    1,991
2011                 317          352      669
2012               1,661        2,209    3,870
2013               1,340        2,215    3,555
Totals             5,848        7,299   13,147

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals with approved petitions under the
translators/interpreters program whose cases were converted in
accordance with P.L. 110-242, June 3, 2008; the data also include
individuals classified as special immigrants who adjusted to LPR status
in the United States; the data do not include dependents born in a
country other than Iraq.

Table A-4. Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans Who Worked for the U.S.
Government

Fiscal Year   Principals   Dependents   Total

2008                199          195      394
2009                262          366      628
2010                  7           36       43
2011                  3           28       31
2012                 63           62      125
2013                652          846    1,498
Totals            1,186        1,533    2,719

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals classified as special immigrants
who adjusted to LPR status in the United States; the data do not
include dependents born in a country other than Afghanistan.


Author Contact Information

Andorra Bruno

Specialist in Immigration Policy

abruno@crs.loc.gov, 7-7865

(1) '"Terps' Stick Their Necks Out; Iraqi Interpreters Put Lives on the Line to Assist War Effort," Grand Rapid Press, January 29, 2006, p. A14.

(2) See, for example, Janie Har, "Afghan Gives Thanks for U.S.," The Oregonian, November 23, 2007, p. A1; Brian Albrecht, "Afghan, Iraqi War Aides Start Again Here," Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), April 6, 2014, p. A1.

(3) Lawful permanent residents, also known as immigrants and green card holders, are noncitizens who are legally authorized to reside permanently in the United States.

(4) P.L. 109-163, January 6, 2006.

(5) Act of June 27, 1952, ch. 477, as amended, codified at 8 U.S.C. [section] 1101 et seq.

(6) U.S. Congress, House Committee on the Judiciary, To Provide Special Immigrant Status for Aliens Serving as Translators with the United States Armed Forces, report to accompany H.R. 2293, 109th Cong., 1st sess., H.Rept. 10999, May 26, 2005.

(7) INA [section] 101(a)(27)(A). Returning LPRs are the largest special immigrant group.

(8) Returning LPRs are an exception; this special immigrant classification is not subject to a numerical limitation.

(9) P.L. 89-236, October 3, 1965.

(10) P.L. 101-169, November 29, 1990.

(11) INA [section] 203(b). See CRS Report R42866, Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview, by Ruth Ellen Wasem.

(12) The 1990 act also imposed a cap of 5,000 on religious workers other than ministers within the overall annual numerical limitation of 10,000.

(13) Among the new classifications was one for certain aliens who had been declared dependent on a juvenile court. This special immigrant juvenile classification has since been amended. See CRS Report R43628, Unaccompanied Alien Children: Potential Factors Contributing to Recent Immigration, coordinated by William A. Kandel, pp. 19-20.

(14) Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Naturalization Amendments of 1991 (P.L. 102-232, December 12, 1991).

(15) The base worldwide limit on employment-based immigration is 140,000; using this base, the special immigrant limit of 7.1% equals 9,940. See CRS Report R42866, Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview, by Ruth Ellen Wasem.

(16) INA [section] 101(a)(27)(C), (H), (M).

(17) INA [section] 101(a)(27)(D), (F), (K). With respect to the Panamanian nationals, in the early 1900s the United States gained rights to build and operate the Panama Canal and gained permanent rights to a Panama Canal Zone. Under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977, the Panama Canal Zone ceased to exist in 1979 and the Canal was turned over to the Panamanians in 1999. U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian, Milestones: 1977-1980, "The Panama Canal and the Torrijos-Carter Treaties," http://history.state.gov/milestones/1977-1980/panama-canal.

(18) INA [section] 101(a)(27)(G). April 1, 1979, was the effective date of the exchange of instruments of ratification of the Panama Canal Treaty of 1977.

(19) The special immigrant classifications for Iraqis and Afghans are not enumerated in INA [section] 101(a)(27). The public laws that established them did not amend the INA.

(20) Excluding spouses and children.

(21) P.L. 110-28, Title III, [section] 3812, May 25, 2007; P.L. 110-36, June 15, 2007. These two public laws include many of the same provisions on special immigrant visas for Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters.

(22) The Chief of Mission is the principal officer in charge of a U.S. diplomatic mission abroad. An individual who worked for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, or the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, directly (not as a contractor) is deemed to have worked under Chief of Mission authority.

(23) In addition, the legislation authorized the Secretary of Homeland Security to adjust the status of an alien who had been paroled into the country or had been admitted as a temporary legal resident and who was otherwise eligible for the special immigrant classification even if the alien was not in a lawful immigration status, had engaged in unauthorized employment, or had otherwise violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant visa. With some exceptions, such behavior would typically make an alien ineligible to adjust to LPR status. Parole is discretionary authority that may be exercised by DHS to allow an alien to enter the United States temporarily (without being formally admitted) for urgent humanitarian reasons or when the entry is determined to be for significant public benefit.

(24) P.L. 110-161, December 26, 2007.

(25) P.L. 110-181, January 28, 2008 (Iraqis); P.L. 111-8, March 11, 2009 (Afghans).

(26) Iraqis must have been employed on or after March 20, 2003; Afghans must have been employed on or after October 7, 2001.

(27) P.L. 110-242, June 3, 2008.

(28) According to USCIS, "the authority to grant derivative [special immigrant visa] status to spouses and children of principal Iraqi SIVs did not sunset on Sept. 30, 2013." USCIS, "Special Immigrant Visa Program for Iraqi Nationals Who Worked For or On Behalf Of the U.S. Government Extended," news alert, http://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/special-immigrant-visa-program-iraqi-nationals-who-worked-or-behalf-us-government- extended.

(29) P.L. 113-66, December 26, 2013.

(30) P.L. 113-76, Division K, [section] 7034(o), January 17, 2014.

(31) August 8, 2014.

(32) P.L. 110-242, June 3, 2008.

(33) For additional information on the application process, see U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters; U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis--Who Were Employed by/on Behalf of the U.S. Government; and U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans--Who Were Employed by/on Behalf of the U.S. Government, all available through http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate.html.

(34) Adjustment of status is the process of obtaining LPR status from within the United States.

(35) A police certificate is required for residents of Iraq. Applicants from Iraq or Afghanistan who have lived in another country for more than 12 months after age 16 must submit a police certificate from that locality. A police certificate is not otherwise required for residents of Afghanistan.

(36) See U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Administrative Processing, http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/administrative-processing-information.html.

(37) For a general discussion of the permanent immigration system, including employment-based immigration, see CRS Report R42866, Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview.

(38) The refugee admissions process is set forth in INA [section] 207.

(39) INA [section] 101(a)(42).

(40) See CRS Report RL31269, Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, by Andorra Bruno.

(41) P.L. 110-181, [section] 1244(b)(1)(D), 8 U.S.C. 1157 note (Iraqis); P.L. 111-8, [section] 602(2)(A)(iv), 8 U.S.C. 1101 note (Afghans). No such requirement exists for applicants under the special immigrant program for translators and interpreters. For further discussion of the relationship between the refugee and Iraqi and Afghan SIV programs, see Testimony of USCIS Refugee Affairs Division Chief Barbara Strack, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Homeland Security, Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Program, hearing, 112th Cong., 2nd sess., December 4, 2012, (Washington: GPO, 2013), pp. 21-22 (hereafter cited as Testimony of Barbara Strack at House hearing, December 4, 2012).

(42) In order to gain admission to the United States, an individual must be admissible under the INA. The INA sets forth various grounds of inadmissibility, which include health-related grounds, security-related grounds, and public charge (i.e., indigence).

(43) See CRS Report RL31269, Refugee Admissions and Resettlement Policy, by Andorra Bruno.

(44) P.L. 110-161, Division G, [section] 525, December 26, 2007 (Iraqi and Afghan eligibility for up to 6 months); P.L. 110-181, [section] 1244(g), January 28, 2008 (Iraqi eligibility for up to 8 months); P.L. 111-8, Division F, [section] 602(b)(8), March 11, 2009 (Afghan eligibility for up to 8 months).

(45) P.L. 111-118, [section]207, December 19, 2009.

(46) See CRS Report R42866, Permanent Legal Immigration to the United States: Policy Overview.

(47) As indicated in the table notes, Table 3 does include individuals with approved petitions under the translator/interpreter program whose cases were converted as provided for in P.L. 110-242; however, any such individuals would not be included in Table 2.

(48) Special immigrant visa statistics are available from the DOS Bureau of Consular Affairs, http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/statistics/immigrant-visas.html.

(49) P.J. Tobia, "Tongue Tied in Afghanistan," PBS NewsHour, February 19, 2014, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/tongue-tied-afghanistan/ (hereafter cited as P.J. Tobia, "Tongue Tied in Afghanistan").

(50) Rigby, Brendan, "Mission Impossible: An Assessment of the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa," Northeastern University Honors Junior/Senior Projects, May 1, 2010, http://iris.lib.neu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1064&context=honors_projects.

(51) See, for example, Jason Buch, "Interpreters Who Helped GIs are Left Hanging," San Antonio Express-News, September 22, 2013, p. A1; Kevin Sieff, "U.S. Rejects More Visas for Afghan Interpreters," Washington Post, November 11, 2013, p. A1.

(52) P.J. Tobia, "Tongue Tied in Afghanistan."

(53) Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State Janice L. Jacobs, U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Ten Years After 9/11--2011, Preventing Terrorist Travel, hearing, 112th Cong., 1st sess., July 13, 2011, (Washington: GPO, 2012), p. 522 (hereafter cited as Testimony of Janice L. Jacobs at Senate hearing, July 13, 2011).

(54) U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Oversight of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, hearing, 112th Cong., 1st sess., October 19, 2011 (Washington: GPO, 2012), p. 45. (hereafter cited as DHS oversight hearing, October 19, 2011).

(55) P.J. Tobia, "Tongue Tied in Afghanistan."

(56) Testimony of Barbara Strack at House hearing, December 4, 2012, p. 13.

(57) DHS further responded: "We respectfully refer you to the Department of State to comment on whether they have unmet resource needs...." DHS oversight hearing, October 19, 2011, p. 44.

(58) P.L. 113-66, [section][section] 1218-1219.

(59) Testimony of Barbara Strack at House hearing, December 4, 2012, p. 13. For additional information about security checks, see CRS Report R43589, Immigration: Visa Security Policies, by Ruth Ellen Wasem.

(60) Ibid., p. 522.

(61) U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, National Security and Foreign Policy Priorities in the Fiscal Year 2014 International Affairs Budget, hearing, 113th Cong., 1st sess., April 18, 2013 (Washington: GPO, 2014), p. 107.

(62) Testimony of DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Analysis Dawn Scalici, U.S. Congress, House Committee on Homeland Security, Terrorist Exploitation of Refugee Program, hearing, 112th Cong., 2nd sess., December 4, 2012, (Washington: GPO, 2013), p. 18.

(63) Subsequent amendments, however, made changes to the numerical limitations provisions (see "Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans").

(64) This accounts for the discrepancy between these tables and Table 2 in the report. Table 2 includes these 24 dependents.

(65) This accounts for the discrepancy between these tables and Table 3 in the report. Table 3 includes these 169 dependents.

(66) Patrick F. Kennedy, "State Department: Visa Process Improving," USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/11/13/special-immigrant-visa-iraq-afghanistan-state-department-editorials- debates/3520529/.
Table 1. Comparison of Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa
Programs

                              Iraqis and Afghans
                              Who Have Worked as
                                Translators or
                                 Interpreters

Nature/duration of            Permanent
Program
Required work period for      At least 1 year
eligibility
Ability of spouse/children    Yes
to accompany
Application deadline          None
Current numerical cap         50 per year
Eligibility for refugee       Yes
benefits

                                    Iraqis Who Have
                                   Worked for or on
                                  Behalf of the U.S.
                                     Government

Nature/duration of            Temporary (until all visas
Program                       issued)
Required work period for      At least 1 year between
eligibility                   3/20/2003 and 9/30/2013
Ability of spouse/children    Yes
to accompany
Application deadline          9/30/2014
Current numerical cap         2,500 after 1/1/2014
Eligibility for refugee       Yes
benefits

                                  Afghans Who Have
                                  Worked for or on
                                 Behalf of the U.S.
                                    Government

Nature/duration of            Temporary (until end of
Program                       FY2015 at latest)
Required work period for      At least 1 year between
eligibility                   10/7/2001 and 12/31/2014
Ability of spouse/children    Yes
to accompany
Application deadline          9/30/2014 (12/31/2014 for
                              additional 1,000 visas--see
                              below)
Current numerical cap         3,000 for FY2014 (with
                              carryover of unused
                              balance into FY2015);
                              additional 1,000
                              by 12/31/2014
Eligibility for refugee       Yes
benefits

Source: P.L. 109-163, [section]1059, as amended, 8 U.S.C. 1101 note;
P.L. 110-181, ([section])1244, as amended, 8 U.S.C. 1157
note: P.L. 111-8, [section]602, as amended, 8 U.S.C. 1101 note.

Table 2. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators and
Interpreters

Fiscal Year    Principals   Dependents       Total

2007                 537          466        1,003
2008                 559          557        1,116
2009                  51           69          120
2010                  43           84          127
2011                  42           85          127
2012                  64           91          155
2013                  32           80          112

Totals             1,328        1,432        2,760

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals classified as special immigrants
who adjusted to LPR status in the United States.

Table 3. Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis and Afghans Who Worked
for the U.S. Government

Fiscal Year    Principals   Dependents       Total

2008                 371          334          705
2009               1,680        1,736        3,416
2010                 947        1,103        2,050
2011                 320          392          712
2012               1,724        2,320        4,044
2013               1,992        3,116        5,108
Totals             7,034        9,001       16,035

Source: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Notes: The data include individuals with approved petitions under the
translator/interpreter program whose cases were converted in accordance
with P.L. 110-242; the data also include individuals classified as
special immigrants who adjusted to LPR status in the United States.
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