Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans - Who Were Employed by/on Behalf of the U.S. Government

For information about visa operations at Embassy Kabul, please visit: https://af.usembassy.gov/visas/

Important Notice: Afghan SIV Petition Change

Starting July 20, 2022, the Department of State and USCIS have combined two steps in the Afghan SIV application process: (1) the Chief of Mission approval, and (2) the SIV petition.

The old process, until July 20, 2022

Until July 20, 2022, Afghan SIV applicants had to apply for Chief of Mission (COM) approval with the U.S Department of State using the DS-157 form. Then after receiving COM approval, applicants had to file an I-360 petition for special immigrants with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a separate step.

The new process, starting July 20, 2022

Beginning July 20, 2022, new Afghan SIV applicants need to submit only a DS-157 form along with their COM approval application. The Department of State will process this form both for COM approval and as a special immigrant petition. New Afghan SIV applicants will no longer need to file an I-360 petition.

Afghan SIV Program Update

The Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, as enacted on July 30, 2021, authorized 8,000 additional Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghan principal applicants, for a total of 34,500 visas allocated since December 19, 2014. The Department of State’s authority to issue SIVs to Afghan nationals under section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, as amended (the “Act”), will continue until all visa numbers allocated under the Act are issued.

Important Notice: Transferring SIV Cases from Embassy Kabul to Another Post

Operations at U.S. Embassy Kabul have been suspended since August 31, 2021.  We are unable to provide visa services, including visa interviews, in Afghanistan at this time.  Applicants with an approved I-360 petition, who are ready to schedule their SIV interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside Afghanistan, should reach out to NVC NVCSIV@state.gov to have their case transferred. Please do not request that your case be transferred to a country you will not be able to travel to. Please note that SIV interviews can only be transferred to U.S. embassies or consulates with immigrant visa processing capacity and that we cannot help you enter or obtain a visa for a third country.  Applicants still undergoing COM or I-360 processing do not need to transfer their case.

Your interview will be scheduled after you submit all required documents, making your case documentarily complete, and the receiving post has notified NVC they have interview capacity.  NVC will send you an email notification when your interview is scheduled. SIV interviews are  being prioritized by posts worldwide. However, interview wait times may vary post to post even for SIVs due to COVID-19 and other capacity limitations.

If you had an interview scheduled at Embassy Kabul and were unable to complete the interview due to the suspension of operations, you may email the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate with immigrant visa processing capacity that you are able to travel to and request an interview transfer. For contact information, please visit https://usembassy.gov. The response times may vary depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate. If you did not have an interview scheduled at Embassy Kabul, do not contact a U.S. embassy or consulate directly as they will be unable to transfer your interview.

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Important Notice: Litigation Matter

NOTICE ON LITIGATION MATTER: Afghan and Iraqi Allies Under Serious Threat Because of Their Faithful Service to the United States, on Their Own and on Behalf of Others Similarly Situated, et al. v. Blinken, et al. No. 18-cv-01388-TSC (D.D.C.) and No. 20-5251 (D.C. Cir.).

Plaintiffs (collectively a group of anonymous Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigration Visa (“SIV”) applicants) filed a class complaint against Defendants Antony J. Blinken, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of State, et al., in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) and Mandamus Act.  Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants have unreasonably delayed the adjudication of SIV applications submitted by certain Iraqi and Afghan nationals under the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (“RCIA”) and the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 (“AAPA”).  Defendants deny many of these allegations.

On September 20, 2019, the district court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motion, granted Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, in part, and declared Defendants’ delays in the processing and adjudication of the SIV applications to be unreasonable under the APA in light of AAPA § 602(b)(4) and RCIA § 1242(c)(1).  On February 5, 2020, the district court certified a class that consists of all people (1) who applied for an Afghan or Iraqi SIV by submitting an application for Chief of Mission (“COM”) approval and (2) whose applications have been awaiting government action for longer than nine months. On June 14, 2020, the district court adopted a Joint Adjudication Plan that establishes a performance standard for each of the steps in the SIV application process and requires the Government to submit quarterly performance reports to the court.

Class members covered by the Joint Adjudication Plan are all people who applied for an Afghan or Iraqi SIV pursuant to the AAPA, and RCIA, by submitting an application for COM approval, and whose applications have been awaiting government action for longer than 9 months, as of May 21, 2020, the date of the submission of the Joint Adjudication Plan.  The following parameters are used to identify class members: individuals who—

(1) submitted COM applications to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) prior to August 21, 2019, and whose COM applications are pending, either on original review or on appeal, or approved;

(2) submitted COM applications to the NVC prior to August 21, 2019 and whose COM applications were denied after January 22, 2020 [i.e., case received date is earlier than August 21, 2019 AND (not approved/denial date) is later than January 22, 2020], and are still within the statutorily allotted 120-day time period for appealing the denial;

(3) submitted I-360 petitions that are pending or were issued a notice of approval [i.e., (I-360 Filing Date) is earlier than May 21, 2020]; or

(4) are pre- or post- visa application interview [i.e., who received a letter informing them that NVC has received their approved SIV petition earlier than May 21, 2020], including those refused under INA section 221(g) for administrative processing.

Overview

A special immigrant is a person who qualifies for lawful permanent residence under one of several programs. Section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, as amended, is a special immigrant program, which authorizes the issuance of Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to Afghan nationals who meet certain requirements:

  • have been employed in Afghanistan for a period of at least one year between October 7, 2001 and December 31, 2023
    • by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government; or
    • by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), or a successor mission (1) in a capacity that required you to serve as an interpreter or translator for U.S. military personnel while traveling off-base with U.S. military personnel stationed at ISAF, or a successor mission, or (2) to perform sensitive and trusted activities for U.S. military personnel stationed at ISAF, or a successor mission;
  • have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government, or ISAF, or a successor mission, as applicable, which is documented in a positive letter of recommendation or evaluation from your senior supervisor or the person currently occupying that position, or a more senior person, if your senior supervisor has left the employer or has left Afghanistan; and
  • have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of their employment.
  • apply no later than December 31, 2023.

For more information about the relevant U.S. laws, see References - U.S. Laws. For frequently asked questions, see Afghan FAQs. For contact information, see Afghan Contact us.

In addition to the information on this website, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has posted on its website a fact sheet and information on Form I-360 petitions for this program.

This program is completely distinct from another program authorizing SIVs for certain Iraqi and Afghan translators/interpreters who worked directly with the United States Armed Forces or under COM authority, although some translators and interpreters may qualify under both programs. For information on that program, see Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters.

Afghans employed by an organization under a U.S. grant or cooperative agreement are not eligible for the SIV program; if you are unsure of whether this is the case, please inquire with your HR department before you apply for Chief of Mission approval.  Afghans who were employed by contractors or subcontractors to work at ISAF, or a successor mission, also do not qualify for the SIV program.

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Important Notice: Project Rabbit Assistance for SIV Applicants Employed by DoD Contractors

The Department of Defense (DoD) partnered with the Department of State (DOS) to assist with the employment verification portion of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process for Afghan nationals who were reportedly employed by DoD contractors. This effort is called Project Rabbit.

Project Rabbit’s goal is to streamline the Chief of Mission (COM) approval application (Step 1 of the Afghan SIV application process), by matching SIV applicants with human resource and employment data voluntarily provided by DoD contractors.  If matched, Project Rabbit provides this employment information directly to the Department of State to assist in employment verification and in the COM’s determination that the SIV applicant provided “faithful and valuable service” to the U.S. Government, one of the most burdensome portions of the process. The Department of State uses this employment information to assist qualified SIV applicants in obtaining a COM approval letter and thereby completing Step 1 of the SIV application process.

Step 1 - Collect Chief of Mission Documents and fill in the DS-157 Petition

After you review the requirements for this program, you must collect the five (5) documents required to support your application for this program, including the Form DS-157 Petition for Special Immigrant Classification for Afghan SIV Applicants. Review the detailed Applicant Guidelines for Chief of Mission Approval for the required documents. Please do not submit anything other than what is listed unless we ask you to do so.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If after reviewing the FAQs and a required document is unavailable, you must submit a detailed written explanation when you submit your application. The Chief of Mission designee will review your case.

STEP 2 - Scan Collected Documents

Once you have collected all the necessary documents, you must scan and save them.

In order to scan your documents, you will need access to a computer and scanner or a smartphone with an internet connection. Note: If you choose to use a public computer, be sure to delete your scanned documents once you have finished uploading them.

In order to ensure your case does not experience delays in processing, follow these guidelines when scanning your documents:

Requirements:

Single File Size and Type

Acceptable file types include .pdf (preferred) .jpg, and .jpeg

Each individual file (scanned document) must be no larger than 4 MB (megabytes).

Scan your multiple page documents, such as your letter of recommendation, as one file. If the document size is more than 2 MB, compress the file.

“Zipped” files, modifiable PDFs, or password-protected files will not be accepted.

Image Quality

Your scans must:

Include the front and back side of any document that has stamps, seals, or writing on the back.

image-step-8-onesidevsbothsides

Include a certified translation of your tazkera with your original (i.e. foreign language) document in a single file.

Be clear, easily seen and read, and no parts of the document are cut off.

image-step-8-blurry-v-clear

Oriented so it can be read across the screen without the need to rotate the document.

image-step-8-rightside-up-orientation

Most scanning programs offer a preview function so you can make sure the document is easily read. If you cannot read the scanned document, re-scan it at a higher resolution. Keep in mind this means the saved file will be larger and you may need to compress the file before you upload it.

Compressing a File

Compression means saving your document in a smaller file size. This not only allows the file to take up less space on your hard drive but also means it can be uploaded or e-mailed much faster. However, not all file types are easily compressed. Most computer operating systems include an option to compress a file. This option is often found under “File” or “Save,” or appears when you right-click on a file name in a navigation screen. Look on the “Help” tool in your computer operating system for more information on what is available to you.

There is also third-party compression software available, both at no cost and for purchase. Please remember, the Department of State cannot accept files that have been “zipped.”

Once you have scanned your required documents, then continue to Step 3: Submit Documents.

STEP 3 - Submit Documents

After you have scanned all of the required documents, including the DS-157 Petition, attach each scan to an email and send it to AfghanSIVApplication@state.gov. The email’s subject line must contain the principal applicant’s name as it is written in the passport or tazkera, plus the applicant’s date of birth using the following format: DAY-MONTH-YEAR.

When you submit your application, you will receive an automatic response confirming the receipt.

Once NVC review your case, you will receive an email stating one of the following:

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Corrections Required

If NVC determines you did not submit the correct documents, you will receive a notification requesting additional information and/or corrections to your documents. When you receive this email, follow the instructions to provide additional information or to correct documents. Once you have followed the instructions, you will need to reply to the email with the new documents to AfghanSIVApplication@state.gov. Do not change the subject line of the email.

Please remember to follow the scanning requirements in Step 2 for your corrections.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If after reviewing the FAQs and you are unable to provide the NVC with the missing information requested, you must submit a detailed written explanation why to the NVC. NVC will determine whether your application is sufficiently complete for Chief of Mission review.

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Documentarily Complete

When NVC determines you have provided all of the required documents to complete your application, you will receive an email stating that your case is documentarily complete. The Chief of Mission designee will evaluate your documentation.

The Chief of Mission review can take several months to complete, please see the Quarterly Reports below for the most recent average processing times.

Step 4 - Receive Decision on COM Application and Petition

Once the Chief of Mission designee has made a decision on your COM application and DS-157 Petition for Special Immigrant Classification for Afghan SIV Applicants, they will inform the NVC. The NVC will then notify you via email to the address you provided in your application.

You will receive an email with one of the following:

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Approval

You will receive a Chief of Mission and Petition Approval letter via email with instructions on how to continue your special immigrant processing.

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Denial

You will receive a Chief of Mission Denial letter via email which will provide an explanation of the basis for denial. You may file one written appeal of a Chief of Mission denial per denial or revocation of COM approval.  Your appeal must be filed within 120 days of receiving the denial letter by email.  The Secretary of State has the discretion to accept written appeals beyond this 120-day window. Your appeal should request that your denied COM application be reopened and must provide additional information pertinent to your application, clarify existing information in your original application, or explain any unfavorable information that was contained in the letter of denial.

Step 5 - Submit Petition

SIV Petition Fact Sheet (PDF-61.25 KB) - SIV Petition Fact Sheet_Pashto (PDF-129 KB) SIV Petition Fact Sheet_Dari (PDF-111 KB)

Starting July 20, 2022, the Department of State and USCIS have combined two steps in the Afghan SIV application process: (1) the Chief of Mission approval, and (2) the SIV petition.

The old process, until July 20, 2022

Until July 20, 2022, Afghan SIV applicants had to apply for Chief of Mission (COM) approval with the U.S Department of State using the DS-157 form. Then after receiving COM approval, applicants had to file an I-360 petition for special immigrants with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a separate step.

The new process, starting July 20, 2022

Beginning July 20, 2022, new Afghan SIV applicants need to submit only a DS-157 form along with their COM approval application. The Department of State will process this form both for COM approval and as a special immigrant petition. New Afghan SIV applicants will no longer need to file an I-360 petition.

If you have not yet applied for an Afghan SIV

For new applications for Afghan SIVs, use the new DS-157. Get the new form at https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds157.pdf. Fill it out, sign it, and attach the rest of the documents needed for COM approval. Email the signed form and your supporting documentation to the National Visa Center (NVC) at AfghanSIVApplication@state.gov. If your application is approved, the NVC will send you an approval letter and instructions on how to continue the SIV application process.

If you have previously contacted the National Visa Center, but your application is not documentarily complete

The National Visa Center (NVC) needs a signed DS-157 from you to consider your application documentarily complete and ready for Chief of Mission review.

If you have already sent a signed DS-157 to the NVC, you don’t need to do anything. Your existing DS-157 will be used as your petition. If your application is approved, the NVC will send you an approval letter and instructions on how to continue the SIV application process.

If you have not already sent the NVC a DS-157 with your signature, then get the new form at https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds157.pdf. Fill it out, sign it, and attach the rest of the documents needed for COM approval. Email the signed form and your supporting documentation to the NVC at AfghanSIVApplication@state.gov. If your application is approved, the NVC will send you an approval letter and instructions on how to continue the SIV application process.

If you received Chief of Mission approval before July 20, 2022

If you are outside the United States and:

You have submitted an I-360 to USCIS

You have not yet submitted an I-360 to USCIS

You do not have to do anything else.

 

USCIS will continue to process your petition. After USCIS has approved your petition and sent it to the NVC, the NVC will send you instructions on how to continue your SIV application process.

 

If you received COM approval before July 20, 2022, you can choose to participate in the new process.

 

Do that by emailing NVCSIV@state.gov with your name, NVCSIV case number, COM approval letter, and (if possible) a copy of the DS-157 you previously submitted with your COM approval application.  NVC will then send you instructions on how to continue your SIV application process.

 

If you are IN the United States and:

You have submitted an I-360 to USCIS

You have not yet submitted an I-360 to USCIS

You do not have to do anything else.

 

USCIS will continue to process your petition. After USCIS has approved your petition and sent it to the NVC, the NVC will send you instructions on how to continue your SIV application process.

 

You must file an I-360 with USCIS.

 

After USCIS has approved your petition and sent it to the NVC, the NVC will send you instructions on how to continue your SIV application process.

If you receive Chief of Mission approval dated July 20, 2022 or later

The NVC will send you an approval letter and instructions on how to continue the SIV application process.

Instructions for the DS-157

Access the DS-157 at https://eforms.state.gov/Forms/ds157.pdf. Fill it out, sign it, and attach the rest of the documents needed for COM approval, refer to the guidelines at Step 1 - Collect Chief of Mission Documents.

Instructions for the I-360

Submit the following package of documents directly to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 tazkera showing that you are a national of Afghanistan, along with a certified English translation, if the document is not in English.
  • A copy of the letter of recommendation that you sent to NVC when you applied for Chief of Mission (COM) Approval.
  • A copy of your Chief of Mission approval
  • If you are in the United States when you file the petition, a copy of the front and back of your paper Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record. If you entered the United States after the automation of Form I-94, and your Arrival/Departure Record was created electronically, you may obtain a paper Form I-94 at http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions.

To learn more about USCIS and to access forms and instructions, please click here.

Step 6 - NVC Processing

Starting July 20, 2022, the Form DS-157 Petition for Special Immigrant Classification for Afghan SIV Applicants which you must file together with your COM application, will be processed by the COM or COM Designee as your special immigrant petition.  Under this new petition process, starting July 20, 2022, if you are granted COM and petition approval, NVC will send you an approval letter and instructions on how to continue the SIV application process.  Some Afghan SIV applicants may however still be required to file an I-360 petition with USCIS.  For those applicants only after USCIS approves your petition, they will transfer your case to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC). NVC will send you a Welcome Letter by e-mail. With the information in this letter, you can log in to our Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to complete your Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260) and submit your supporting documents.

Once you submit forms and supporting documents to NVC, we will review your case to ensure you provided all the documentation required to schedule the immigrant visa interview. Interviews are based on the availability of appointments offered at the Embassy/Consulate. Operations at U.S. Embassy Kabul have been suspended since August 31, 2021.  We are unable to provide visa services, including visa interviews, in Afghanistan at this time

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

Important Notice: Termination of Registration:

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 203(g) provides that the “Secretary of State shall terminate the registration (petition) of any alien who fails to apply for an immigrant visa within one year” of notice of visa availability. The petition may be reinstated if, within two years of notice of visa availability, the alien establishes that the “failure to apply was for reasons beyond the alien’s control.” Therefore, if you do not respond to notices from NVC within one year you risk termination of your petition under this section of law and would lose the benefits of that petition, such as your priority date.

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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receipt number, full name, and date of birth. Customer Service Representatives at NVC are available from 7:30 a.m. to midnight (EST).

Step 7 - Complete Online Visa Application (DS-260)

After receiving your NVC Welcome Letter, if you are outside the United States, you and each qualified family member immigrating with you must complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260). You may wish to preview a sample DS-260 (PDF - 13.9 MB) before beginning.

To complete your Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, log into your case in CEAC and click the ‘START NOW’ under IV Application on your summary page.

Submitting Form DS-260 does not formally execute a visa application. The visa application is not formally made until the visa applicant(s) is interviewed by a U.S. consular officer.

After submitting Form DS-260 online, you must print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview. You can print this from CEAC any time after you complete your DS-260 application.

Step 8 - Collect Documents    

After you complete your DS-260(s), you and each family member immigrating with you MUST collect the civil documents required to support your visa application.

Your civil documents MUST be issued by the official issuing authority in your country. Please refer to the Document Finder to learn about the civil document requirements for each country.

Please note that all documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country from which you are applying, must be accompanied by certified translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that:

  • The translation is accurate, and
  • The translator is competent to translate.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If a required document is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines, you do not need to scan the document into your CEAC. However, if you cannot obtain a required document for another reason, you must submit a detailed written explanation to NVC when you scan your other documents. During your visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether you must obtain the missing document before a visa can be issued. As a general rule, any document that is listed as “available” on the country-specific guidelines must be reviewed by a consular officer. Failure to obtain all required documents will delay your case.

  • A copy of the biodata page from the passport of each applicant;
  • Scanned copies of a birth certificate/tazkera 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 authorities of that locality. See additional information how to obtain a police certificate.
  • A completed Refugee Benefits Election Form (PDF - 364 KB). Please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions for more information resettlement benefits;
  • A completed DS-0234, Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (PDF - 312 KB) for each family member immigrating with you.

Step 9: Scan Collected Documents

Once you have collected all the necessary documents, you must scan and save them.

In order to scan your documents, you will need access to a computer and scanner or a smartphone with an internet connection. Note: If you choose to use a public computer, be sure to delete your scanned documents once you have finished uploading them.

In order to ensure your case does not experience delays in processing, follow these guidelines when scanning your documents:

Requirements:

Single File Size and Type

Acceptable file types include .pdf (preferred) .jpg, and .jpeg

Each individual file (scanned document) must be no larger than 4 MB (megabytes).

Scan your multiple page documents, such as your letter of recommendation, as one file. If the document size is more than 2 MB, compress the file.

“Zipped” files, modifiable PDFs, or password-protected files will not be accepted.

Image Quality

Your scans must:

Include the front and back side of any document that has stamps, seals, or writing on the back.

image-step-8-onesidevsbothsides

Include a certified translation of your tazkera with your original (i.e. non-English language) document in a single file.

Be clear, easily seen and read, and no parts of the document are cut off.

image-step-8-blurry-v-clear

Oriented so it can be read across the screen without the need to rotate the document.

image-step-8-rightside-up-orientation

Most scanning programs offer a preview function so you can make sure the document is easily read. If you cannot read the scanned document, re-scan it at a higher resolution. Keep in mind this means the saved file will be larger and you may need to compress the file before you upload it.

Compressing a File

Compression means saving your document in a smaller file size. This not only allows the file to take up less space on your hard drive but also means it can be uploaded or e-mailed much faster. However, not all file types are easily compressed. Most computer operating systems include an option to compress a file. This option is often found under “File” or “Save,” or appears when you right-click on a file name in a navigation screen. Look on the “Help” tool in your computer operating system for more information on what is available to you.

There is also third-party compression software available, both at no cost and for purchase. Please remember, the Department of State cannot accept files that have been “zipped.”

Step 10: Submit Documents

After you have scanned all of the required documents, attach each scan to an email and send it to NVCSIV@state.gov. The email’s subject line must contain the case number provided on your Welcome Letter.

When you submit your application, you will receive an automatic response confirming the receipt.  

Once NVC reviews your case, you will receive an email stating one of the following:

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Corrections Required

If NVC determines you did not submit the correct forms and/or documents, you will receive a notification requesting additional information and/or corrections to your documents. When you receive this email, follow the instructions to provide additional information or to correct documents.  Reply to the email at NVCSIV@state.gov with the new documents. Do not change the subject line of the email.

Please remember to follow the scanning requirements in Step 9 for your corrections.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If you are unable to provide the NVC with the missing information requested, you must submit a detailed written explanation to the NVC. During your visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether you must obtain the missing document before a visa can be issued.

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Documentarily Complete

When NVC determines you have submitted the required documents for your immigrant visa application, you will receive an email that your case is documentarily complete and NVC will work with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment for you. NVC cannot predict when your case will be scheduled for an interview.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General tells NVC what dates they are holding interviews, and NVC fills these appointments in a first-in, first-out manner.

Step 11: Interview Steps

After the National Visa Center (NVC) schedules your visa interview appointment, they will send you an email noting the appointment date and time.

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Is a personal interview required?

Yes. After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 age 14 or over who is applying for a visa with you must also appear at the embassy or consulate for an interview.

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If I am in Afghanistan, can my interview be conducted at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul?

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul suspended operations on August 31, 2021.  Consular services, including visa services, remain available outside Afghanistan.  If you would like to transfer your immigrant visa case to a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of Afghanistan that processes immigrant visas, please submit your request to the National Visa Center at NVCSIV@state.gov, including your name, date of birth, and case number.

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

Yes, your spouse, as well as your unmarried minor children under age 21, may accompany you to the United States or follow to join you in the United States. Any family members age 14 or over must also attend the visa interview. You must provide proof of the marriage relationship to your spouse and the parental relationship to your children. Your family members may not enter the United States before you.

We strongly advise you to bring your spouse and children age 14 or over 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 at a later date and may follow to join you in the United States at a later time.

If you marry, or have a child, after your SIV petition is approved but before you travel to the United States, your new spouse or child 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 or child should be added to the petition and an interview scheduled. If you marry a non-U.S. national after you have already traveled to the United States, you may file a family-based petition for your spouse.

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

Spouses or children may, in some circumstances, still be eligible for a special immigrant visa if the COM application was submitted before the principal applicant’s death and the spouse and children were listed in that application as accompanying the principal applicant.

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What documents should I bring to the visa interview?

Please bring your unexpired passport valid for six (6 months) beyond your intended date of travel and a photocopy of the biographic page, any military photo identification (if available), civilian identification badges, and originals of any civil documents, such as marriage certificates, taskeras or death certificates, court and criminal records (if you have ever been convicted of a crime), including all documents that were submitted by email to the National Visa Center (NVC). (Applicants must provide Afghan machine-readable e-passports.) 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.

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May an attorney or other representative accompany me to the visa interview?

An attorney or other accredited representative may represent you during the SIV application process, including at relevant interviews and examinations. Such representation is not to be the expense of the U.S. government.

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

No. When preparing for your visa interview, please plan for the possibility that you may need to stay for more than one day in the city 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.

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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 may request your case be transferred to another immigrant visa issuing post. To request a case transfer, contact the post where your case is currently scheduled for interview.

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Is there a visa application fee?

No. Under this particular program, there is no immigrant visa application fee. You are required to pay all costs associated with the medical examination.

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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 SIV visa interview is successful, you will not receive your visa on the same day. Some SIV cases require additional administrative processing after the interview.

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Is a medical examination required for SIV applicants?

The Emergency Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, Pub. Law No. 117-31, enacted July 30, 2021, gave the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to issue a joint blanket waiver of the requirement that SIV applicants undergo a medical exam before being issued an immigrant visa or admitted to the United States. Such waiver is applicable to Afghan SIV applicants in Afghanistan who have met all requirements for SIV issuance except the medical exam if and when the U.S. Chief of Mission at Embassy Kabul determines that Afghan SIV applicants are no longer able to obtain the medical exam without undue hardship or risk to personal safety. The Chief of Mission made this determination on August 13, 2021. The medical waiver is applicable to Afghan SIV applicants who meet the requirements outlined above.  Applicants granted a medical waiver are required to complete a medical exam in the United States not later than 30 days after admission into the United States.

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

If you have received Chief of Mission (COM) approval, had your petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the National Visa Center (NVC) has scheduled your case for an interview, you should directly contact the U.S. embassy or consulate to which your case has been assigned:

If your case has been assigned to: You may contact the Embassy at:
U.S. Embassy Kabul https://af.usembassy.gov/visas/iv-inquiry-form/

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

Step 12: Arrival in the United States

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

Yes. Afghan 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). Resettlement assistance is available under section 602(b) of Division F, Title VI, of the Omnibus Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2009, Public Law 111-8 to Afghans who are admitted to the United States on Special Immigrant Visas, for a period not to exceed eight months. For more information about the relevant U.S. law, see References - U.S. Laws, number 7.

The U.S. Department of State’s Reception and Placement (R&P) Program provides basic living assistance and limited support for up to the first 30 - 90 days after you arrive.

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How do I apply to receive these benefits?

If you would like to participate in the Reception and Placement Program (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. If necessary, you may send them upon arrival in the United States. You should send the forms to the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) , 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.

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What are my resettlement options?

The Refugee Benefits Election Form (PDF – 115 KB) includes specific information about placement options. 

Information on Resettlement Options is available here: Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans and Iraqis - Resettlement Options (state.gov)

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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 - 115 KB) and the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234) (PDF - 145 KB) to the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Refugee Processing Center (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.

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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 Reception and Placement (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.

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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 has issued an SIV visa and the Refugee Processing Center (RPC) has referred your case to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for travel arrangements.

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How will I know which agency is responsible for providing services to me in the U.S.?

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 - 115 KB), the Special Immigrant Visa Biodata Form (DS-0234) (PDF - 145 KB), and of your visa, after it has been issued, to the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Refugee Processing Center (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.

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If I elect to receive refugee benefits, what help will I receive once I am in the U.S., 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 many 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 them.

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.

Agency Agency Website

Church World Service (CWS)

www.churchworldservice.org

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)

www.episcopalchurch.org/emm

Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)

www.ecdcinternational.org

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)
https://worldrelief.org
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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).

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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). HHS/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 Reception and Placement (R&P) Program will be assisted in applying for HHS/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 U.S. state in which you live.

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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 the 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Quarterly Reports on Status of Afghan Program

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

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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 nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq or Afghanistan, respectively. 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

H.R. 3237, Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021, Public Law 117-31

This law, signed on July 30, 2021, amends the Afghan SIV program by adding 8,000 additional visas and extending the program through December 31, 2023. Congress also amended the requirements for employment that would qualify a principal alien under this program, such that the required period of service is one year for all qualified applicants and removed the requirement for a principal alien under this program who was employed by ISAF or a successor mission to have performed “sensitive and trusted” activities for U.S. military personnel. The amendment also established that all steps of the SIV process, including the COM application process, must be completed within 9 months, with the exception of high-risk cases for which satisfaction of national security concerns requires additional time. The amendment also permitted written appeal of a COM denial more than 120 days after that denial at the discretion of the Secretary of State. The amendment also authorized the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to jointly issue a blanket one-year, extendable waiver of the medical exam requirement for Afghan SIVs prior to issuance of an immigrant visa or admission to the United States. Additionally, among other changes, the amendment provides for Afghan and Iraqi SIV eligibility for surviving spouses and children of Afghan and Iraqi principals who had submitted an applicant for COM approval prior to their death.

2

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Section 7076 of Pub. L. 116-260

This law, signed on December 27, 2020, amends the Afghan SIV program by adding 4,000 additional visas and extending the program through December 31, 2022.

3

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Div. A., Pub.L. 116-283), Section 1212(b)

This legislation, which became law on January 1, 2021, extends one of the reporting requirements of this program to January 31, 2023.

4

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020, Section 1219 of Pub. L. 116-92

This law, signed on December 20, 2019, amends the Afghan SIV program by adding 4,000 additional visas and extending the program through December 31, 2021. Congress also amended the requirements for the type of employment that would qualify a principal alien under this program. Among other things, the NDAA for FY 2020 removed a previous requirement for a principal alien who was employed by or on behalf of the United States Government in Afghanistan to have performed “sensitive and trusted activities” for the United States Government in Afghanistan.

5

Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019, Section 7076 of Pub. L. 116-6

This law, signed on February 15, 2019, amends the Afghan SIV program by adding 4,000 additional visas, conditioned on the development and implementation of a prioritization process for Afghan special immigrant visas and the submission of three reports to the appropriate congressional committees.

6

John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2019, Section 1222 of Pub. L. 115-232

This law, signed on August 13, 2018, amends the Department of State’s reporting requirements and eliminated the requirement for a database of federal contractors in Afghanistan. 

7

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2018, Section 1213 of Public Law 115-91.

This law, signed on December 12, 2017, authorizes the issuance of 3,500 additional visas to Afghan principal applicants with no end date by which they must be issued.

8

Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2017, Section 7083 of Public Law 115-31

This law, signed on May 5, 2017, authorizes the issuance of 2,500 additional visas to Afghan principal applicants with no end date by which they must be issued. 

9

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2017, Section 1214 of Public Law 114-326

This law, signed on December 23, 2016, extends and amends the Afghan SIV Program.  It authorizes the issuance of 1,500 additional visas to principal applicants with no end date by which they must be issued.  It also extends the date by which applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval from December 31, 2016 to December 31, 2020.  It amends eligibility for Afghans employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government who submit an application for Chief of Mission approval on or after December 23, 2016 to applicants whose employment required them to serve as an interpreter or translator for personnel of the Department of State or USAID; to serve as an interpreter or translator for U.S. military personnel; or to perform sensitive and trusted activities for the U.S. government.

10

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2016, Section 1216 of Public Law 114-92

This law, signed on November 25, 2015, extends and amends the Afghan SIV Program. It authorizes the issuance of 3,000 additional visas to principal applicants with no end date by which they must be issued. It also extends the date by which applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval from December 31, 2015 to December 31, 2016 and increases the required length of service from one year to two years between October 7, 2001 and December 31, 2016. It expands SIV program eligibility to certain Afghans who were employed by a successor mission to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

11

National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2015, Section 1227 of Public Law 113-291

This law, signed on December 19, 2014, extended the Afghan SIV Program. It authorized the issuance of 4,000 visas to principal applicants by September 30, 2016. It also extended the date by which applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2015 and expanded SIV program eligibility to certain Afghans who were employed by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

12

Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act of 2014, Section 1 of Public Law 113-160

This law, signed on August 8, 2014, extended the Afghan SIV Program. It authorized the issuance of 1,000 visas to principal applicants by December 31, 2014. It also extended the date by which applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval from September 30, 2014 to December 31, 2014.

13

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014, Section 7034(o) of Division K, Title VII of Public Law 113-76

This law, signed on January 17, 2014, extended the Afghan SIV Program. It authorized the issuance of 3,000 visas to principal applicants in fiscal year (FY) 2014 and allowed that any unissued visas from FY 2014 be allocated to FY 2015. It also established that the employment period must have commenced on or after October 7, 2001 and been completed on or before December 31, 2014 and that applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval no later than September 30, 2014.

14

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, Section 1219 of Division A, Title XII, Subtitle B of Public Law 113-66

This law included provisions for: consideration of a credible sworn statement depicting dangerous country conditions, together with official evidence of such country conditions from the U.S government, as a factor in a determination of whether an applicant has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of employment by the U.S. government; not more than one written appeal of a COM denial, within 120 days of receiving the denial letter; and representation during the application process, including at relevant interviews and examinations, by an attorney or other accredited representative.

15

The Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Section 602(b) of Division F, Title VI, of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009, (Public Law 111-8)

This law allowed up to 1,500 Afghan nationals who provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government, while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Afghanistan after October 7, 2001, for not less than one year, and who have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment, to receive special immigrant visas (SIVs) annually through FY 2013, with the allocation of any unused visas from FY 2013 to FY 2014. The period of qualifying employment was later extended under subsequent legislation. See law above.

16

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 law below.

17

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.

 

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