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SIV Victory: Court of Appeals Rejects U.S. Government’s Attempt to Abandon Afghan and Iraqi Allies


June 12, 2024


Spencer Tilger |


U.S. Government Sought to Get Out of Court-Ordered Plan to Speed Up SIV Processing

(New York, NY) – Last Friday, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the U.S. government’s attempt to avoid accountability in Afghan & Iraqi Allies v. Blinken, a class action lawsuit challenging the U.S. government’s failure to adjudicate Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications in a timely manner. The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US LLP represent a class of Afghan and Iraqi nationals who worked for the United States’ missions in their home countries and have SIV applications pending longer than the congressionally-prescribed nine month timeline.

The decision is the latest rejection by the courts of the U.S. government’s continued attempts to get out of a 2020 court-ordered plan to speed up the adjudication of delayed SIV applications. The circuit court affirmed a D.C. district court’s November 2022 order denying the government’s request to terminate the plan because of changed circumstances including the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Plaintiffs argued that the changes alleged by the government did not warrant throwing out the plan; rather, the plan is more necessary than ever due to the Taliban’s targeting of U.S allies.

IRAP Litigation Staff Attorney, Kimberly Grano, said:

“The D.C. Circuit affirmed that the U.S. government cannot avoid accountability to its Afghan and Iraqi allies. This is a tremendous victory for the Special Immigrant Visa applicants with the longest-pending applications and a repudiation of the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to abandon its responsibilities to this population. Nearly four years after the district court approved a plan to speed up the adjudication of these egregiously delayed applications, the government still hasn’t delivered on its obligations to class members. Our class members have waited years, sometimes over a decade, for their visas to be processed. Many of them remain in extremely dangerous circumstances, and this ruling is critical to ensuring the United States fulfills its promise to them.”

The Association of Wartime Allies (AWA), U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer, and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker all submitted amicus briefs in support of the allies. The Afghan-American Foundation and AWA/Veterans for American Ideals also submitted briefs in response to the government’s original request to terminate the plan.


  • Read the decision: HERE
  • Learn more about the history of the case: HERE
  • Read about what was at stake in the appeal: HERE

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) is a global legal aid and advocacy organization working to create a world where refugees and all people seeking safety are empowered to claim their right to freedom of movement and a path to lasting refuge. Everyone should have a safe place to live and a safe way to get there.