Two Afghan women pose, arms folded, in front of a military helicopter on a tarmac. They wear olive green pilot uniforms with black head scarfs.

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.

Client Story

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 mourn this devastating loss, all while living in fear that they will be next.

A group of 10 U.S. soldiers and Afghan allies in uniform stand shoulder to shoulder on a wooden bridge holding the flags of Afghanistan and the United States. An arid mountain is visible in the background.

Client Story

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.

Fred, a former client from Afghanistan, smiles slightly into the camera. He has close cropped brown hair, light brown eyes, and a shaved face. He wears a red and white checked button-down shirt.