Emergency Alert
September 17, 2017
Hurricanes Irma and Jose
Emergency Alert
October 2, 2017
Hurricane Maria

U.S. Visas

English

Immigrate

Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters

This page describes one Special Immigrant Visa program available to persons who worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter in Iraq or Afghanistan. This program, which offers visas to up to fifty persons a year, remains active.

Note: You should NOT make any travel arrangements, sell property, or give up employment until and unless you are issued a U.S. visa.

Overview

ALL /
ALL /

What is this program?

Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, authorizes the issuance of up to 50 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) annually to Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters working for the U.S. military and who meet certain requirements. An amendment to Section 1059 expanded the total number of visas to 500 per year for FY 2007 and FY 2008 only. In FY 2009, the number of visas available for this category reverted to 50 annually. As amended, the Act provides for SIV status for eligible Iraqi or Afghan translators and interpreters, who have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority at U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul. For more information about the relevant U.S. laws, see References - U.S. Laws, numbers 1, 2, and 3.

In addition to the information on this website, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides information on Form I-360 petitions for this program.

This program is completely distinct from two other programs authorizing SIVs for certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have worked for, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, although some translators and interpreters may qualify under both programs. For information on those programs, see SIVs for Iraqi nationals or SIVs for Afghan nationals.

ALL /
ALL /

What is meant by SIV?

SIV stands for Special Immigrant Visa. While there are many categories of SIVs, this webpage discusses only SIVs for eligible Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters who have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority at U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul.

ALL /
ALL /

What is meant by fiscal year?

The fiscal year begins on October 1 and ends September 30.

ALL /
ALL /

What is meant by Chief of Mission (COM) authority?

Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters who have worked directly (not as contractors) for U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul are considered to have been under COM authority.

ALL /
ALL /

How many Special Immigrant Visas can be issued per year under this program?

The total number of principal applicants who can receive SIV status under this program may not exceed 50 per fiscal year.

SIVs issued to a principal applicant’s spouse and children do not count toward the 50 limit.

ALL /
ALL /

Who can apply for this program?

You may apply for this program if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • You must be a national of Iraq or Afghanistan; and
  • You must have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under COM authority as a translator or interpreter for a period of at least 12 months; and
  • You must have obtained a favorable written recommendation from a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the U.S. Armed Forces unit that was supported by you, as a translator or interpreter, or from the Chief of Mission from the embassy where you worked.

Specific requirements for each step of the process are detailed below.

ALL /
ALL /

What about my family? Can my family members immigrate with me?

Your spouse, as well as unmarried children younger than 21, may be granted SIVs, and may travel with you or may follow to join you after you have been admitted to the United States.

STEP 1 – File a Petition with USCIS

ALL /
ALL /

Who files the petition (Form I-360)? What documents are required?

The first step toward applying for SIV status is to file a petition with USCIS. You must submit the following package of documents directly to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center:

  • A completed Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
    [NOTE: To be properly filed, the Form I-360 must include your original signature.]
  • A copy of your passport or nationality/birth certificate showing that you are a national of Iraq or Afghanistan, along with a certified English translation, if the document is not in English.  
  • Proof that you worked as a translator/interpreter with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority for at least 12 months.
  • Proof of a background check and screening by the U.S. Armed Forces or the COM.
  • A recommendation letter from a General or Flag Officer in the chain of command of the unit you supported as a translator/interpreter, or from the COM at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or Kabul.
  • Payment for filing the petition (see below).

More information is available on the USCIS website under Green Card for an Afghan or Iraqi Translator.

ALL /
ALL /

Where do I find the forms?
ALL /
ALL /

Who may submit the letter of recommendation?

General, Lieutenant General, Major General, Brigadier General in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps; Admiral, Rear Admiral in the Navy; or the Chief of Mission in Baghdad or Kabul.

ALL /
ALL /

What if I am unable to locate or need assistance contacting my former U.S. Military or Department of Defense Supervisor?

If your previous supervisor was U.S. military or an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense and you are having trouble locating them, the Supervisor Locator can possibly help. Learn more.

ALL /
ALL /

Is there a template or format for the letter of recommendation?

There is no required format, but the letter should include the length of your service, information concerning your security clearance, and the recommendation.

ALL /
ALL /

Should I submit copies of commendations and recommendations along with the required letter of recommendation?

You may submit copies of any additional commendations and recommendations, but they do not take the place of the required documents.

ALL /
ALL /

Where do I file the petition?

You must mail your petition and required documents to the following address, by either regular mail or overnight delivery, to:

Regular Mail:
USCIS/ Nebraska Service Center (NSC)
P.O. Box 87485
Lincoln, NE 68501-7485

Overnight Deliveries:
USCIS/ Nebraska Service Center (NSC)
850 “S” Street
Lincoln, NE 68508

ALL /
ALL /

What return mailing address should I use on the Form I-360 petition?

USCIS cannot send mail outside the United States except to an APO address. If you have access to an APO address, USCIS will use this address. If you do not have access to an APO address, but you have family, friends, or an attorney with an address in the United States, you may list their address (with their permission). In Part 1, line 3, the family member's, friend's, or attorney’s name must be listed in the C/O (in care of) section; otherwise the post office will not deliver the mail. You should also list your e-mail address, as this is the best way for USCIS to reach you.

If you don’t have an APO address or an address in the United States, you should list your e-mail address.

ALL /
ALL /

Can the Form I-360 be filed electronically (E-filing)?

No, this form is not set up for E-filing.

ALL /
ALL /

Where will my petition be adjudicated? Who makes the decision?

All petitions for this program are adjudicated at USCIS Nebraska Service Center. If approved, USCIS will forward your petition to NVC, which will then contact you by e-mail to begin collecting the necessary documentation to support your visa application. NVC will also schedule the visa interviews for you and your family at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.

ALL /
ALL /

If my Form I-360 petition is denied, will the application fee be refunded?

No, this is a processing fee and is not based on the decision.

ALL /
ALL /

What is the difference between Part 1 and Part 3 of the Form I-360? Should both parts be completed?

Part 1 and Part 3 contain similar information, but Part 3 includes additional required information. Both parts should be completed.

ALL /
ALL /

In Part 2, what box should be checked?

You should check box "k" for a claim for SIV classification under section 1059 of Public Law 109-163 as a translator or interpreter.

NOTE:  If you are a national of Iraq who has been employed in Iraq by or on behalf of the U.S. Government for at least one year, you may be eligible to claim SIV classification under section 1244 of Public Law 110-181 by checking box “l”.

If you are a national of Afghanistan who has been employed in Afghanistan by or on behalf of the U.S. Government for at least one year, you may be eligible to claim SIV classification under section 602(b) of Division F, Title VI of Public Law 111-8 by checking box “m” and writing “Afghan Worker” in the space provided.

See SIVs for Iraqi nationals or SIVs for Afghan nationals for further information regarding qualifications.

ALL /
ALL /

In Part 10 of the Form I-360, who can sign the section for USCIS Officers or Consular Officers?

Because of the dangers in Iraq and Afghanistan, USCIS will accept the signature of a U.S. military officer in the chain of command of a translator or interpreter who has worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces.

ALL /
ALL /

What are the fees associated with filing the petition?

For applicants filing through the Nebraska Service Center while residing outside the United States, the Form I-360 fee is $375.00 for a claim for classification under section 1059.

See www.uscis.gov for more information about fees.

ALL /
ALL /

What is the method of payment of the petition filing fee?

The method of payment is either a personal check on a U.S. bank, a money order in U.S. dollars, or a fee receipt from a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. This may be paid by anyone. If paid by someone other than you and by personal check, please ensure that your name is written on the bottom of the check.

ALL /
ALL /

Can the fee be waived?

Yes, you may request a fee waiver by placing a cover sheet on the petition and explaining the reasons for the request. However, if the waiver is denied, the petition will be rejected and the filing date will not be retained, meaning you will lose your place in line and will need to re-file the petition, going to the back of the queue of already-pending cases.

ALL /
ALL /

If I am an Iraqi or Afghan refugee already in the United States, can I file Form I-485 with USCIS to apply for adjustment from refugee to SIV status?

No. A refugee in the United States is not eligible to adjust from refugee to SIV status. Under U.S. law, an employment-based immigrant must be in valid nonimmigrant status in order to apply for adjustment. Instead, a refugee may adjust to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status after acquiring one year of physical presence in the United States following his or her refugee admission. (Note: there is no fee for applicants who are filing Form I-485 to adjust to LPR status based on having been admitted to the United States as a refugee.)

See the USCIS website for further information.

ALL /
ALL /

My question wasn't answered here. Where can I get more information about filing an I-360 petition?

If you need further information about the petition filing process, you may e-mail the USCIS Nebraska Service Center at SIVTranslator.NSC@dhs.gov.

STEP 2 – Prepare for Your Visa Application

ALL /
ALL /

When will my case be ready for visa processing?

Once NVC receives your approved petition from USCIS, NVC will contact you by e-mail to advise you to begin collecting the appropriate documents to move ahead with your visa application, and to obtain a passport. NVC will schedule your immigrant visa interview for you and your family at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas. NVC will forward your SIV case to that embassy or consulate for your visa interview. NVC will work with you to schedule your appointment at the embassy or consulate in the country in which you reside or to which you can easily travel.

You must provide an e-mail address to facilitate communication with NVC. You may contact NVC by e-mail at NVCSIV@state.gov.

ALL /
ALL /

What documents do I need to send to NVC for visa processing? (For Iraqi SIV applicants)

You must submit the following forms and documents for yourself and all family members also applying for visas:

  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample  DS-260 (PDF - 6.4MB)
       
  • A copy of the biodata page from the passport of each applicant.  You should obtain an A or G series Iraqi passport because only A or G series passports are valid for travel to the United States.  Click here for more information about Iraqi passports.
  • Family Book (Copy of Entry 1957) and scanned copies of a birth certificate for each applicant, and any other civil documents showing the relationship between you and your spouse and/or minor children (e.g., marriage and divorce certificates, adoption decrees, etc.).  If no birth certificate is available, the Iraqi national identity card (bataqa shaksiya) may be used instead of a birth certificate;
  • Police certificate from Iraq if you have lived in Iraq for at least six months since reaching age 16.  If you have lived in a different country for more than 12 months since reaching age 16, then you need to submit a police certificate from the authorities of that locality. Click here for additional information on how to obtain police certificates. 
  • A completed Refugee Benefits Election Form  (PDF - 56 KB)
  • A completed DS-0234, Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (PDF - 312 KB) (if you elect to receive Resettlement Benefits; see explanation below).

All documents must be accompanied by an English translation. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator that the translation is accurate, and the translator is competent to translate.

ALL /
ALL /

What documents do I need to send to NVC for visa processing? (For Afghan SIV applicants)

You must submit the following forms and documents for yourself and all family members also applying for visas:

  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample  DS-260 (PDF - 6.4MB).
       
  • A copy of the biodata page from the passport of each applicant; (Each passport must be valid for at least 12 months beyond the anticipated visa interview date).
  • Scanned copies of a birth certificate/taskera for each applicant, and any other civil documents showing the relationship between you and your spouse and/or minor children (e.g. marriage (Nikah Khet) and divorce certificates, adoption decrees, etc.)
  • Police certificates are NOT required if you are a resident of Afghanistan. However, if you have lived in a different country for more than 12 months since reaching the age of 16, then you must submit a police certificate from the police authorities of that locality. Click here for additional information on how to obtain police certificates. 
  • A completed Refugee Benefits Election Form  (PDF - 56 KB);
  • A completed DS-0234, Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (PDF - 312 KB) (if you elect to receive Resettlement Benefits; see explanation below).

All documents must be accompanied by an English translation. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator that the translation is accurate, and the translator is competent to translate.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I submit my documents to NVC?

Please scan and send all documentation to NVC via e-mail at NVCSIV@state.gov. Do not mail any original documents or photos to NVC. You should hand-carry your original documents and photos with you to your visa interview.

ALL /
ALL /

Am I eligible for Resettlement Benefits?

Yes. Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants are eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, for up to eight (8) months after being admitted to the United States. For more information about the relevant U.S. laws, see References - U.S. Laws, numbers 4, 5, and 6.

If you wish to participate in the U.S. Department of State’s Reception and Placement (R&P) Program, which covers only your first 30-90 days in the United States, you must apply for it before you travel to the United States. 

To apply, you must return scanned, signed copies of the Refugee Benefits Election Form  (PDF - 56 KB) (signature required) and the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234)  (PDF - 312 KB), included in the visa instruction packet, to NVC, the Refugee Processing Center (RPC), or the appropriate Resettlement Support Center (RSC), as soon as possible but no later than 10 calendar days after the date your visa is issued. In addition, you must submit a scanned copy of your visa foil as soon as possible but no later than 30 calendar days prior to the visa’s expiration. You should not wait to submit the Refugee Benefits Election Form and the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form until visa issuance. All three items must be received by NVC, RPC, or RSC prior to the deadlines indicated above. Failure to do so will result in the denial of any future request for Department of State-funded resettlement benefits. Click here for additional information about Department of State-funded benefits.

If you decline to receive Department of State-funded resettlement benefits, you may still be eligible to receive benefits funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR). Unlike Department of State-funded benefits, HHS/ORR-funded benefits can be claimed upon arrival to the United States. Click here for additional information about HHS/ORR-funded benefits.

ALL /
ALL /

I submitted an SIV petition. How do I find out the status of my application?

When your approved petition reaches NVC, you will be advised by e-mail and provided with instructions. If you believe that you have an approved petition, but you have not been contacted by NVC, or you have questions about your pending SIV case after the petition has been approved, please email NVC at NVCSIV@state.gov or call 1-603-334-0828 and provide your USCIS receipt number, full name, and date of birth.  Customer Service Representatives at NVC are available from 7:30 a.m. to midnight (EST). The hours for congressional inquiries are from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (EST).

ALL /
ALL /

My question wasn't answered here. Where can I get more information about my approved petition?

You may e-mail NVC at NVCSIV@state.gov.

Step 3 – The Visa Interview

ALL /
ALL /

Is a personal interview required?

Yes. After USCIS has approved your petition, an interview is required to determine if you are eligible for a visa. You must appear in person at a U.S. embassy or consulate where a consular officer will interview you. U.S. law also requires you to submit fingerprints, which will be taken at the interview. The consular officer will also require evidence that you plan to resign from your position in order to immigrate to the United States.

Each family member who is applying for a visa with you must also appear at the embassy or consulate for an interview.

ALL /
ALL /

Will I be required to provide a written description of my position and responsibilities for my work as a translator/interpreter at the visa interview?

Yes, you will be required to provide a written description of your position and responsibilities for translation/interpretation at your scheduled interview appointment.

ALL /
ALL /

Will I be required to interview in English?

Yes. You should be prepared to interview in English only.

 

ALL /
ALL /

If I live in Iraq or Afghanistan, can my interview be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad or Kabul?

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, conduct interviews for and issue immigrant visas. If you are in another country, the interview may be conducted at the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate that adjudicates immigrant visa applications. You can find a list of our embassies and consulates at http://www.usembassy.gov.

ALL /
ALL /

I am an Iraqi national and do not have a valid passport, or I have an S, M or N series Iraqi passport. Do I need to obtain an A or G series passport?

In order to apply for a U.S. visa and travel to the United States, you must have an A or G series passport. You should make all possible efforts to obtain an Iraqi A or G series passport. Failure to do so will complicate your ability to travel and will delay your application. If your immigrant visa appointment has been scheduled, please contact the embassy or consulate where the interview is scheduled for information about what documents may be required for travel to that country. You should be aware that Iraqi S, M and N series passports are not valid for travel to the United States, though in some limited circumstances a waiver may be available. Again, this will delay your travel significantly. Click here for more information about Iraqi passports.

ALL /
ALL /

May my family accompany me or follow to join me to the United States?

Yes, your spouse, as well as your unmarried children under age 21, may accompany you to the United States or follow to join you in the United States. These family members must also attend the visa interview. You must provide proof of the marriage relationship to your spouse and the relationship to your children. Your family members may not precede you in entering the United States.    

NOTE: We strongly advise you to bring your spouse and minor dependent children with you to your visa interview. This will facilitate having all eligible family members travel to the United States together. If it is not possible for your family members to travel to the interview with you, they will be required to schedule interviews for a later date and may follow-to-join you in the United States at a later time.

If you marry after your petition is approved but before you travel to the United States, your new spouse may be added to the original petition. You should immediately contact the U.S. embassy or consulate where your interview took place, to notify consular officials that your new spouse should be added to the petition and an interview scheduled. If you marry a foreign national after you have already traveled to the United States, you will need to file a new petition for your spouse.

ALL /
ALL /

What happens if the principal applicant dies after approval of the petition?

Your spouse or children may, in some circumstances, still be eligible for a visa if a petition had been approved by USCIS, but the petition was revoked or terminated after its approval due to the death of the principal applicant.

ALL /
ALL /

What documents should I bring to the visa interview?

Please bring your passport, your Iraqi national identity card (bataqa shaksiya) (if you are an Iraqi national), taskera (if you are Afghan national), and any military photo identification or civilian identification badges. You should also bring originals of your civil documents, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, or death certificates, including all documents that were submitted by e-mail to NVC.  At the visa interview, you will also be expected to provide written evidence of your intent to immigrate promptly to the United States. 

In addition, you should bring two recent photographs of each applicant, which meet the photo requirements.

ALL /
ALL /

Will the U.S. Government pay the cost of my travel to the interview or provide accommodations at the interview site?

No. When budgeting your time and your funds, please plan for the possibility that you may need to stay for more than one day in the country where your interview takes place. You will not be able to complete your medical examination and interview on the same day. Some medical exams may require tests with delayed results.

ALL /
ALL /

Can the U.S. Embassy arrange for my entry visas and guarantee admission to another country for my visa interview?

No. While embassies and consulates work closely with their host-country counterparts to ensure coordination on important programs, such as this SIV program, the final decision about whom to admit into a country rests with the government of that country. If you have difficulty entering another country for your visa interview, you should remain in close contact with the U.S. embassy or consulate to which your case has been assigned.

ALL /
ALL /

What are the visa fees?

Each applicant must pay the immigrant visa application processing fee at the visa interview. For the current amount for these fees, see Fees for Visa Services.

ALL /
ALL /

Can the visa fees be waived?

No. We do not have the authority to waive the immigrant visa fees.

ALL /
ALL /

Will I receive my visa on the same day as my interview?

At the conclusion of your interview, the consular officer will let you know if there are any problems with your case that might prevent issuance of a visa, or if there is missing documentation that you need to provide. However, even if your visa interview is successful, you might not receive your visa on the same day. Many immigrant visa cases require additional administrative processing after the interview.

ALL /
ALL /

My question wasn't answered here. Where can I get more information about my pending visa?

You should directly contact the U.S. embassy or consulate to which your case has been assigned:

If you are an Iraqi national and your case has been assigned to:

You may contact the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Baghdad

BaghdadSIV@state.gov

U.S. Embassy Amman

Amman-IV@state.gov

 

If you are an Afghan national and your case has been assigned to:

You may contact the Embassy at:

U.S. Embassy Kabul

KabulSIV@state.gov

Otherwise, go to http://www.usembassy.gov to locate contact information for the U.S. embassy or consulate that is handling your case.

STEP 4 – Arrival in the United States

ALL /
ALL /

As an Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipient, am I eligible for any benefits?

Yes. Afghan and Iraqi SIV recipients are eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), for up to eight (8) months after being admitted to the United States. For more information about the relevant U.S. laws, see References - U.S. Laws, numbers 4, 5, and 6.

The U.S. Department of State’s Reception and Placement (R&P) Program covers only your first 30-90 days in the United States.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I apply to receive these benefits?

If you would like to participate in the R&P Program, you must complete, sign, and return scanned copies of the following two forms, included in the visa instruction packet:

You should complete these two forms as soon as possible while you are still overseas before your visa has been issued, or upon your arrival in the United States. You should send the forms to one of the following offices, so that we can begin processing of your case and book your travel after your visa has been issued:

You must also provide a copy of your visa after it has been issued.

Additional information about Department of State-funded benefits can be found here.

ALL /
ALL /

The instructions on the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234) state that it is to be completed by each beneficiary. Does that mean each member of my family needs to complete a form or is one form sufficient for all family members included on the SIV case?

You must complete a separate form for each family member and return it to NVC at NVCSIV@state.gov or the RPC at SIV@wrapsnet.org. NVC will provide you with the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234) (PDF - 312 KB) as part of the visa application packet. This form can also be found on the Refugee Processing Center’s (RPC) website.

ALL /
ALL /

I would like to be resettled in a specific city/state. What should I do?
ALL /
ALL /

How do I obtain a travel loan?

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will prepare your travel loan and arrange your travel to the United States after your visa has been issued, if you elected to receive travel and resettlement assistance from the Department of State by submitting scanned, signed copies of the Refugee Benefits Election Form  (PDF - 56 KB) and the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234)  (PDF - 312 KB) to the NVC or the RPC. This interest-free travel loan is a benefit provided through the U.S. Department of State’s Reception and Placement (R&P) Program, for which you must apply while you are still overseas. Additional information about Department of State-funded benefits can be found here.

ALL /
ALL /

What if I have to travel immediately and cannot arrange travel through the International Organization for Migration (IOM)?

Under certain circumstances, we understand you may not have time to declare your intention to participate in the R&P Program while still overseas. If you elect to arrange your own flight, you may still be eligible for Department of State resettlement benefits or benefits funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR). To determine if you qualify, please contact a resettlement affiliate as soon as possible after your arrival in the United States as your eligibility is time-limited. We recommend you contact a resettlement affiliate within 30 days after your arrival. The list of resettlement affiliates can be found on http://www.wrapsnet.org/ or click here.

ALL /
ALL /

At what point can I begin to make travel arrangements, sell property, and/or give up my job?

You should NOT sell property and/or give up employment until the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General has issued a visa and the Refugee Processing Center has referred your case to IOM for travel arrangements.

ALL /
ALL /

How will I know which agency is responsible for providing services to me in the United States?

If you choose to receive Department of State-funded Reception and Placement (R&P) services, you must fill out and return scanned copies of the Refugee Benefits Election Form  (PDF - 56 KB), the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234)  (PDF - 312 KB), and of your visa, after it has been issued, to NVC or the RPC while still overseas. Once you submit the copy of your issued visa, your case will be assigned to a resettlement agency before you depart for the United States. Prior to departure, the entity responsible for processing your case for R&P benefits - either a Resettlement Support Center (RSC) or the RPC - will provide you with an Assurance Form indicating your final destination in the United States and the resettlement agency that will provide services to you upon your arrival.

ALL /
ALL /

If I elect to receive refugee benefits, what help will I receive once I am in the United States, and from whom?

The Department of State funds nine (9) Resettlement Agencies that participate in the Reception and Placement (R&P) Program under a cooperative agreement. These agencies have over 300 affiliated Reception and Placement offices across the United States. The resettlement agency is responsible for providing initial reception and placement services and assisting refugees and SIV beneficiaries to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible. All refugees and SIV recipients who elected to participate in the program are provided with sponsorship and resettlement services appropriate to their personal circumstances by one of these organizations.

The U.S. government has established guidelines and provides funding for the resettlement services that you will receive upon arrival in the United States. Your resettlement agency will have a local office in or near the town where you will be resettled and will provide basic living assistance and support for up to the first 30-90 days after you arrive. The following are some of the things you should expect to do and/or receive during your first weeks in the United States.

The resettlement agency to which you are assigned will:

  • Receive U.S. government funds and use these funds to pay for your rent and/or basic necessities. A portion of these funds may be given directly to you in cash.The resettlement agency will ensure you have a small amount of money for daily needs.
  • Ensure you have housing for your first 30 days.
  • Assist with enrolling your children in school.
  • Assist you with access to English language classes, if necessary.

With assistance from the resettlement agency, if needed, you will need to:

  • Apply for a social security card, required for work.
  • Learn about and be assisted with access to employment services. (While the resettlement agency will assist in whatever way it can, it is ultimately your responsibility to find and maintain employment.)
  • Learn to use public transportation (a car will not be provided).
  • Begin to learn about U.S customs and law.
  • Learn about and be assisted with access to community services that can help you, including social services, cash and medical assistance, and food stamps, if necessary.
  • Find out about other government services and programs and how to access services.

The program would not succeed without volunteers in communities across the United States to assist with these activities. The following organizations provide initial resettlement services to refugees and SIV recipients. You may learn more about them from information provided in their websites.

U.S. Refugee Resettlement Agencies Website
Church World Service (CWS) www.churchworldservice.org
Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) www.episcopalchurch.org/emm
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) www.hias.org
International Rescue Committee (IRC) www.rescue.org
Lutheran Immigration & Refugee Service (LIRS) www.lirs.org
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) www.refugees.org
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) http://usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/
World Relief (WR)

www.wr.org

ALL /
ALL /

What if I already have a file with UNHCR or a UN number? What should I do?

If you meet the eligibility criteria of the SIV Program, you may apply for an SIV even if you are already registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and/or have an application pending with the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP).

ALL /
ALL /

Are other benefits available to me, if I decline benefits from the Department of State?

If you decline to receive Department of State-funded resettlement benefits, you may still be eligible to receive benefits funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS/ORR). ORR-funded benefits are administered by states and are available through state benefit-granting agencies. After arrival in the United States, you may apply for these benefits in the state in which you reside. SIV recipients who elect to participate in the U.S. Department of State R&P Program will be assisted in applying for ORR-funded benefits by the resettlement agency providing their R&P services. If you do not elect to participate in the Department of State’s R&P Program, you must apply for these benefits on your own by contacting the State Refugee Coordinator in the state in which you live.

ALL /
ALL /

If admitted to the United States, do I get U.S. citizenship? If so, how long does it take?

As an SIV recipient, you will have Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status upon admission into the United States. Once you are admitted to the United States you will be mailed your Permanent Resident Card (also known as Green Card). You are normally eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after residing for five (5) years in the United States. For more information, see naturalization information on the USCIS website.

Back to Step 4

Back to Top

Contact Information

If you: Please Contact: at:
think you might be eligible to apply for an SIV, your supervisor in the U.S. Armed Forces, or the Human Resources (HR) office at your embassy or consulate  
have questions regarding filing requirements and instructions for an SIV Form I-360 petition, USCIS Nebraska Service Center sivtranslator.nsc@dhs.gov
have an approved Form I-360 petition and have questions regarding your case status, National Visa Center (NVC) NVCSIV@state.gov
have questions about your immigrant visa interview, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the interview will be scheduled You can find a list of our U.S. Embassies and Consulates at: http://www.usembassy.state.gov
would like information about SIV resettlement benefits and post-arrival services, the Refugee Processing Center SIV@wrapsnet.org
are a supervisor of an SIV applicant that has received COM approval and would like to submit additional information in support of the pending visa application Visa Office SIV-Applicant-Supervisor@state.gov

Back to Top

References – U.S. Laws

The chart below contains a list of U.S. laws relevant to Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for eligible Iraqi or Afghan translators/interpreters who worked directly with the U. S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority.  You can find more detailed information about each of these laws by going to the National Archives Office of the Federal Register website.

     Law: Information about the Law:
1 Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (Public Law 109-163) This law allowed up to 50 Iraqi and Afghan translators/interpreters who worked for the U.S. Armed Forces to receive special immigrant visas (SIVs) each fiscal year (FY). This law was later amended and now provides SIV status for eligible Iraqi and Afghan translators/interpreters who have worked either directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority at U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul.
2 Public Law 110-36 This law, which then-President Bush signed on June 15, 2007, amended the law above by expanding the total number of SIVs issued to Iraqi and Afghan translators/interpreters working for the U.S. military to 500 a year for FY 2007 and FY 2008 only.
3 Public Law 110-242 A provision of this law applies only to cases in which petitions for SIV status as Iraqi or Afghan translators/interpreters who worked directly with the U. S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority for at least 12 months were filed before October 1, 2008. It authorized the continued processing and adjudication of these applications even though the annual limit of 500 visas had already been reached.
4 The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-161 of December 26, 2007) This law initially made Afghan and Iraqi SIV holders eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for up to six (6) months from their date of admission or date of adjustment if applying domestically. The period of eligibility was later extended under subsequent legislation. See these two laws below.
5 The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181 of January 28, 2008) This law extended the period of eligibility of Iraqi SIV holders for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits to up to eight (8) months from their date of admission or date of adjustment if applying domestically.
6 The Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 111-8 of March 10, 2009)

This law extended the period of eligibility of Afghan SIV holders for resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits to up to eight (8) months from their date of admission or date of adjustment if applying domestically. For Afghan SIV holders already in the U.S. to be eligible for uninterrupted benefits for an additional two (2) months beyond the original six months (6) allowed under previous law, you must have been admitted to the U.S. on or after September 10, 2008, or if applying domestically, have a date of adjustment of September 10, 2008 or later.

Back to Top