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

Iraqi SIV Program Extended

The Department of State’s authority to issue Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to Iraqi nationals under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 was extended. As of January 1, 2014, 2,500 visas may be issued to principal applicants under this program, and the program will end when all visas have been issued.

The deadline to apply for Chief of Mission approval, the first step in the SIV application process, was September 30, 2014.

Overview

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What is this program?

Section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, authorized the issuance of up to 5,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) annually through fiscal year (FY) 2013 to Iraqi nationals who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq and who meet certain requirements. Subsequent legislation extended this program from October 1 until December 31, 2013. This program was again extended through legislation effective January 1, 2014. The SIV process is available to Iraqi employees and contractors who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, for a period of one year or more, and who have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment. For more information about the relevant U.S. law, see References - U.S. Laws, number 1

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 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 our page on Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters.

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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 citizens who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government for one year or more between March 20, 2003 and September 30, 2013, and who have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat due to that employment.

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What is meant by fiscal year?

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

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

The total number of principal applicants who could receive SIV status under this program could not exceed 5,000 per year for fiscal years 2008 through 2012.  The unused amount from fiscal year 2012 was allocated toward fiscal year 2013. Subsequent legislation extended this program until December 31, 2013. During this period of extension, there was authorization for the issuance of visas in the amount of the total number of applications for SIV status by principal applicants pending as of September 30, 2013 and for up to 2,000 additional visas for person who apply for status as principal applicants subsequent to that date. This program was again extended through legislation effective January 1, 2014 and authorizes the issuance of 2,500 visas to principal applicants. The program will end when all 2,500 visas have been issued. SIVs issued to a principal applicant's spouse and children do not count toward the numerical limit.

The deadline to apply for Chief of Mission approval, the first step in the SIV application process, was September 30, 2014.

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Who could apply for this program?

Applicants for this program must have met all of the following requirements:

  • You must be a national of Iraq; and
  • You must have been employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, for a period of one year or more; and
  • You must have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. Government, which is documented in a letter of recommendation from your supervisor; and
  • You must have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of your employment by the U.S. government.

The deadline to apply for Chief of Mission approval, the first step in the SIV application process, was September 30, 2014. Applications submitted after this date cannot be accepted or processed.

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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 – Chief of Mission Approval

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May I apply for Chief of Mission (COM) approval?

The deadline to apply for COM approval was September 30, 2014. Applications submitted after this date cannot be accepted or processed.

Although applications are no longer possible for the Iraqi SIV program, you may be eligible for resettlement in the United States with your family under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP). For more information on the USRAP, please visit http://iq.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/baghdad/sections-offices/refugee-idp-affairs/.

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I submitted my application for Chief of Mission (COM) approval by September 30, 2014. What happens after I submit my documents?

NVC will collect and review your documents. Once NVC deems the application packet complete, it is forwarded to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, where the Chief of Mission (COM) SIV approval designee and staff will review your case. If approved, a Chief of Mission Approval letter will be sent to you via e-mail with instructions on how to send your application and Form I-360 petition to the Nebraska Service Center. See Step 2 below.

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Who is the Chief of Mission (COM)?

The Chief of Mission (COM) is the principal officer in charge of a diplomatic mission appointed by the President of the United States.

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What happens if my Chief of Mission application is denied?

Applicants whose Chief of Mission (COM) applications are denied will receive a letter of denial by email which will provide an explanation of the basis for denial. You may file one appeal of a COM denial, and it must be filed within 120 days of receiving the denial letter by email. Your appeal should request that your denied COM application be reopened and should 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.

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If I have already been scheduled for an interview or have been interviewed as a refugee, but am also eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa based on approval of my Chief of Mission (COM) application, which application should I pursue?

You determine which route you choose to pursue. Both processes take several months to complete. Registration and application for either program is not a guarantee of eventual admission to the United States. You may pursue both applications simultaneously. The refugee and SIV programs differ in process and eligibility. Please consult U.S. Embassy Baghdad’s Office of Refugee and IDP Affairs website for more information about accessing the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

You may apply for both the refugee and SIV programs at the same time. At the time of your interview with a U.S. government official for either refugee or SIV status, you should ask that your case in the other status be closed. You may be asked to submit a written request to close your other case.

STEP 2 - File a Petition with USCIS

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

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, nationality certificate (shahadat jensiyah), or national identification card showing that you are a national of Iraq, along with a certified English translation, if the document is not in English.
  • A copy of the recommendation from your supervisor that you sent to NVC when you applied for Chief of Mission (COM) approval.  
  • A copy of your COM approval, which should note that the COM or his/her designee:
    • Has determined that you were employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government between March 20, 2003 and September 30, 2013, for a period of not less than one year;
    • Has conducted an independent review of records maintained by the U.S. government or hiring organization or entity to confirm employment and determined that you have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government; and
    • Has determined that you have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of your employment by the U.S. government.
  • 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.

More information is available on the USCIS website under Green Card for an Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government.

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Where do I find the forms?
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How do I file the petition?

There are no filing or biometric fees associated with this petition, you may scan and email your petition with the required documents (preferably in pdf format) to the following email address:

NSCI360SIVAPP@uscis.dhs.gov

Please note if you submit your I-360 by email, that you must bring the same original, signed Form I-360 that was submitted to NSC with you to the consular interview.   

Or you may send the original I-360 and required documents by either regular mail or overnight delivery, to the appropriate address below.

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

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

If you scan and email your Form I-360 petition, include the email address you want USCIS to use to send your electronic receipt (Form I-797). If no email address is submitted with the form, the receipt notice will be sent electronically to the email address from which the petition was submitted. 

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 email 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 email address.

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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 the NVC, which will then contact you by e-mail to begin collecting the necessary documentation to support your visa application. NVC will also schedule your visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas.

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When the numerical limit of visas is reached, will my petition be rejected and have to be re-filed?

USCIS will continue to process each petition, even if the numerical limit of visas has been reached. 

When your petition has been approved, it will be sent to the NVC.  If visas are available, the NVC will contact you to schedule the visa interview. If the authorized number of visas are no longer available, the NVC will hold the petition. 

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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.

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In Part 2, what box should be checked?

You should check box “l,” Special Immigrant Iraq National who was employed by or on behalf of the United States Government, in Part 2 of the Form I-360. If an earlier form is used, you should check box ”k” – “Other, explain”, and write “Iraqi Worker” in the space provided.

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What are the fees associated with filing the petition?

Under this particular program, there are no filing or biometric fees associated with filing the petition.

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If I am an Iraqi 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.

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My question wasn’t answered here. Where can I get more information about filing a Form I-360 petition?

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

STEP 3 - Prepare for Your Visa Application

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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. 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.

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What documents do I need to send to NVC for visa processing?

You must submit the following forms and documents for yourself and all family members also applying for visas. If you have previously submitted any of these documents to NVC, you do not need to submit them to NVC again.

  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
    • Preview a sample DS-260 (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 Resettlement 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.

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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.

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Am I eligible for Resettlement Benefits?

Yes. Iraqi 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. law, see References - U.S. Laws, number 2.

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 arrive in 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 (DS-0234) until visa issuance. All three items must be received by the 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 U.S. Click here for additional information about HHS/ORR-funded benefits.

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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).

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

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).

Step 4 - The Visa Interview

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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.

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

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

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I 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.

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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.

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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.

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What documents should I bring to the visa interview?

Please bring your passport, your Iraqi national identity card (bataqa shaksiya), any military photo identification, civilian identification badges, and originals of any 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.

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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 at 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 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 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 should remain in close contact with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to which your case has been assigned.

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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 get 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 any 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.

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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 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

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

STEP 5 - Arrival in the United States

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

Yes. 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. law, see References - U.S. Laws, number 4.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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 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 General has issued a visa and the Refugee Processing Center has referred your case to 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 - 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.

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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

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)

www.wr.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).

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

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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 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.

Contact Information

If you:

please contact:

at:

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

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References – U.S. Laws

The chart below contains the U.S. laws relevant to Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for eligible Iraqi employees or contractors who were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq. 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 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as amended by section 1218 of Public Law 113-66

This law extends the Iraqi SIV Program on January 1, 2014. During this period of extension, the issuance of 2,500 visas to principal applicants is authorized. It also establishes that the one-year employment period must have commenced on or after March 20, 2003 and been completed on or before September 30, 2013 and that applicants must apply for Chief of Mission approval no later than September 30, 2014. This law also 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.

2

Section 1244 of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as amended by section 1 of Public Law 113-42 (H.R. 3233)

This law extended the Iraqi SIV Program until December 31, 2013. During this period of extension, there was authorization for the issuance of visas in the amount of the total number of applications for SIV status by principal applicants pending as of September 30, 2013 and for up to 2,000 additional visas for person who apply for status as principal applicants subsequent to that date. It also established that the one-year employment period must have commenced on or after March 20, 2003 and been completed on or before September 30, 2013.

3 Section 1244(g) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as ameded by Section 1 of Public Law 110-242 This law allowed up to 5,000 Iraqi employees or contractors who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government, while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq, for a period of one year or more after March 20, 2003, 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 fiscal year (FY) 2013.

4

Section 1244(g) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181)

This law established the Iraqi SIV program, and made holders of such visas eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted to the United States under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Iraqi SIV holders can receive these benefits for up to eight (8) months from their date of admission to the United States.

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