U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, chair of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, announced her bipartisan effort to help protect Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support U.S.-led missions in Afghanistan. The Afghan Allies Protection Act would increase the number of authorized Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIV), remove extraneous paperwork requirements, and improve the program’s efficiency as U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan.
“Afghan men and women supported the United States’ military and diplomatic efforts and in some cases, saved the lives of service members and diplomatic personnel. The Senate must support and expand the Special Immigrant Visa program in order to uphold our commitment to these brave individuals, who put themselves at risk to help our country,” said Senator Gillibrand.
In light of increasing violence and major territorial gains by the Taliban, President Biden is focused on safely withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and creating a safe space for the thousands of Afghans who assisted the United States in combat and are currently awaiting visa approval. The SIV program is the best path to ensuring the safety of Afghan allies that were integral to U.S. military efforts overseas and would allow the U.S. to fulfill its promise to the Afghans who supported and saved the lives of American service members and diplomatic personnel.
The legislation would provide immediate improvements and strengthen efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program by:
- Increasing the number of authorized visas;
- Changing the employment requirement for eligibility from two years to one year;
- Postponing the required medical exam until the applicant and their family have arrived in the United States;
- Removing the requirement for a credible sworn statement regarding the threat an applicant faces;
- Removing the “sensitive and trusted” requirement for International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support employment; and
- Providing for Special Immigrant status for certain surviving spouses and children of murdered applicants.
Full text of the legislation is available here.