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White House officials: security clearances in SIV program have been expedited

The security clearance process for the special immigrant visa program – which resettles Iraqis who have been threatened because they served the U.S. government during the war – has been altered, and as a result more SIV visas have been issued in the past six months than in all of fiscal year 2011, according to a USA Today story. About 715 SIVs have been issued since October, more than the 706 that were issued in FY 2011.

The screening under the program was tightened in 2011, leading to a drastic drop in the number of visas issued. Although the Obama administration will not comment on the additional security measures imposed, officials say changes have been implemented that will expedite the security clearance process.

“We owe these people,” said Anthony Blinken, the national security adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. “If we don’t deal with this problem, it will have a chilling effect on the willingness of people around the world to work with us, to cooperate with our missions.”

Under the SIV program, more than 7,700 Iraqis have been resettled in the U.S. since its inception in 2007, with 2,843 resettled in 2009 and 2,042 in 2010.

Read the full story here.