August 01, 2014

Bipartisan Congressional Approval Results in 1,000 Additional Afghan Ally Visas

The Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act of 2014 — a shining example of bipartisanship — passed this week in both the House and Senate. Through its advocacy work, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has been working diligently to obtain additional visas for those who risked their lives working alongside Americans in Afghanistan. FaegreBD Consulting's Managing Advisor Beena Patel and Director Josh Andrews provide federal affairs assistance to IRAP on a pro bono basis.

The bill amends the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 by authorizing the 1,000 additional Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs), raising the cap from 3,000 to 4,000, that the State Department must use by Dec. 31, 2014. This is considered a life-saving bill that will ensure the safety of Afghans who helped American armed forces in the War on Terror. Without this legislation, thousands of Afghan allies would continue to live under threatening conditions with no way to find safety in America.

"The number of visas available to the State Department to issue to our Afghan allies has not kept pace with the need, prompting that legislation," IRAP Project Director Becca Heller said in a statement. "The SIV serves as a lifeline for these Afghan allies."

While the 1,000 additional visas provide some immediate relief, a long-term extension of the bill is needed to ensure continued support of our Afghan allies. A backlog of 6,340 Afghans seeking U.S. entry remains. Another bill, H.R. 4594, the Afghan Allies Protection Extension Act, extends the Afghan SIV program through 2016 and contains several other amendments to the current program.

FaegreBD Consulting is committed to working with IRAP and members of Congress on a long-term solution to keep our American allies safe.
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