The United States is pulling out of Afghanistan, and citizens of that country who worked to support American objectives are going to be vulnerable. As a result, special immigration
concessions have been made by Congress.
Aftermath of September 11, 2001
After the terrorist attacks on American soil on September 11, 2001, Congress and President George W. Bush enacted a joint resolution that authorized the use of force in Afghanistan and Iraq. On October 7, the first bombs were dropped on Afghanistan. The United States and our allies assumed control of the country by the end of the year.
A major reconstruction effort was initiated amid ongoing acts of resistance. Working relationships between tens of thousands of Afghans and allied militaries and contractors developed over the next 20 years. This is the dynamic that has fueled the current immigration challenge.
Special Immigration Visas (SIVs)
The United States gave assurances with regard to immigration for Afghans who were willing to join the rebuilding effort if it ever became necessary. Now that the United States is no longer going to have a presence, our government is following through on our word.
The need for an immigration exemption for foreign nationals who worked with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan was recognized during the early years of the war. In 2007, the Bush administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill worked on funding for our Middle East efforts.
On January 28th of the following year, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 was approved by Congress and signed into law by the president. It authorized funds for United States defense abroad, and the focus was Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to the appropriations and expansion of certain presidential powers under the wartime circumstances, it established the Special Immigration Visa (SIV)
for certain citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The ability to legally reside in the United States is the obvious benefit, but immigrants with this special status are on a fast track to legal permanent resident status. This is often referred to as a green card
People with green cards are entitled to citizenship after living in the United States for at least five years, as long as they have displayed the characteristics of a model citizen.
There are two different classes of the SIVs: the SI class and the SQ class. The former is available to nationals of Afghanistan who were directly employed by the United States military or the Chief of Mission. This class is strictly for translators or interpreters.
The SQ class is not confined to translators and interpreters who worked for the military per se. An Afghanistan national who was employed by any sector of the United States government can potentially qualify for this status, and it extends to people who worked for American contractors.
There is a length of service requirement that goes along with the employer-employee relationship. For the SI category, it is a minimum of 12 months; it is 24 months for the SQ designation.
In addition to these core requirements, an applicant must secure a letter of recommendation from the Flag Officer who is in charge of their area of employment.
Over 50,000 people have already relocated to the United States with SIVs over the past 12 years.
Afghan Allies Protection Act
Congress recognized the need for some immediate action on Afghan immigration under the circumstances that the country is now facing. A bipartisan group of senators worked side-by-side to put together a piece of legislation called the Afghan Allies Protection Act early in July.
On July 30, it was signed by President Biden, and it is now law. It encompasses five different objectives that will make the Afghan immigration situation more manageable.
The number of SIVs that can be issued is going to increase. As stated above, the employment requirement for the SQ class has traditionally been 24 months, but that is being lowered to one year.
Before the enactment of this measure, applicants were required to pass a medical examination in Afghanistan before they arrived in the United States. Now, they can get the examination when they are on the ground in America.
There was a so-called sensitive and trusted standard for people who worked for the International Security Assistance Force, and this has been set aside. Resolute Support employees are included in this group.
The Afghan Allies Protection Act will make the visa available to some widows and children of applicants who were killed in Afghanistan.
It should be noted that the immediate family members of Afghanistan nationals who are granted the visa can join them in the United States.
The U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP)
Individuals who are seeking refugee status in the United States can go through the United States Refugee Admissions Program. It is administered by the State Department working in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security.
There are three USRAP Designations. Priority 1 is for individual applicants based on their circumstances. Priority 2 is for specific groups that have been identified by the Department of State. Priority 3 is for people who are attempting to reunite with family members who have been resettled in the United States.
On August 2, in light of the Afghanistan evacuation, the State Department granted Priority 2 status to select Afghans and their family members.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC can Provide Help with Special Immigration for Afghans
If you need legal representation for an Afghan special immigration situation, the Philadelphia immigration lawyers at MC Law Group, LLC
are here to help. We know that this is an enormous step to take, and we will effectively guide you through the complicated immigration process. Call us at 215-496-0690
or contact us online
today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.