Special Immigrant Visas (SIV)
The United States’ presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has relied on the life-saving assistance of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who put themselves in danger to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats, and contractors. These individuals provided indispensable linguistic, cultural, and geographic knowledge to the United States at great personal risk to themselves and their loved ones.
Since 2006, Congress has established several Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs that allow eligible applicants to resettle to safety in the United States. Nevertheless, thousands of Iraqi and Afghan allies remain trapped in legal limbo, while facing persistent threats for their collaboration with the United States. Through systemic advocacy, zealous casework, and strategic litigation, IRAP is working to ensure that the U.S. government follows through on its commitment to them.
Visit these links to view resources and learn about IRAP’s response to the events following the withdrawal of the U.S. military from Afghanistan.
Mohammad*, a husband and father of six, dedicated more than twelve years of his life to working with the U.S. Embassy and military in Afghanistan. He and his family were targeted by the Taliban for his service, and he applied for a Special Immigrant Visa to get to safety in the United States. Mohammad’s visa application was met with years-long delays and bureaucratic errors from the U.S. government. Tragically, these delays and errors cost Mohammad his life. After waiting more than a decade for the United States to uphold its promise to bring him to safety, Mohammad was killed by the Taliban in front of his ten year old son. Mohammad’s widow and children mourned this devastating loss, all while living in fear that they would be next.
#SaveOurAllies: Veteran Support For Local Allies
#SaveOurAllies: Dave and Fred
Fred lived in constant fear that he and his family would be murdered by the Taliban for his work as a combat interpreter with U.S. troops on over 500 missions. With the help of the U.S. soldiers he served with, Fred was able to get to safety in the United States and begin building a new life.
#SaveOurAllies: Neal and Mohammed
Too many allies – despite the United States’ promise to protect them for their service – have been threatened, attacked, tortured, and even murdered by militias like the Taliban. Veterans like former U.S. Marine Corps pilot, Neal Rickner, know that standing behind those who stood by them is not just a moral imperative, but an important national security priority.
Afghan and Iraqi allies who worked alongside U.S. troops have been persistently targeted with violence by militias like the Taliban and ISIS. For veterans like Steve Miska, “leave nobody behind,” is a sacred commitment that extends to the allies they forged unbreakable bonds with.
Related LitigationView All Cases
Afghan and Iraqi Allies v. Blinken: Challenging systemic delays in deciding Special Immigrant Visa applications
IRAP filed this class action challenge to systemic delays in deciding Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications of Afghans and Iraqis whose lives are at risk because of their work supporting U.S. efforts in their home countries.Learn More +
Fraidoon “Fred” Akhtari served as an interpreter alongside the U.S. military in Afghanistan for 13 years, participating in more than 500 combat missions. After facing harassment and death threats from the Taliban because of his service, Fred relied on the support of the American soldiers with whom he served and his attorneys to help him through the SIV process. After a harrowing five-year wait that included being improperly denied access to the SIV program several times, Fred and his family finally made it to the U.S., where they were welcomed with open arms by the soldiers alongside whom Fred served.
Related News & Resources
“We Were Robbed”: Advocates React to Afghan Humanitarian Parole FOIA Findings
The results of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and American Immigration Council (AIC) show that the United States effectively abandoned Afghan HP applicants, even while it profited from their application fees.
FOIA: The Defense Department’s “Project Rabbit” verifying the employment of Afghan SIV applicants
IRAP filed a lawsuit against the Defense Department to challenge the agency’s failure to release documents about “Project Rabbit,” a little-publicized program to review the employment qualifications of Afghan SIV applicants.
One Year After U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, IRAP Reflects on Continued U.S. Obligations to At-Risk Afghans
On August 30, 2021, the final U.S. military flight left Kabul airport, completing a chaotic evacuation process from Afghanistan. One year later, the United States has yet to fulfill its moral, congressional, and court-ordered obligations to protect Afghans who remain at risk, including Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program applicants.