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After Shaheen Advocacy, 12,000 Additional Special Immigrant Visas for Brave Afghan Allies Included in Funding Package

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, issued the following statement on a bipartisan agreement to secure an additional 12,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) for Afghans who stood with American troops and diplomats during the war in Afghanistan. The provision was included in the final funding agreement for fiscal year (FY) 2024.  

“These 12,000 SIVs, which I have fought for throughout negotiations, are a victory for the trusted Afghan allies who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with American troops and diplomats for two decades. They risked their lives for us and in return, we promised to protect them. This is about keeping our word to our allies and maintaining our position as a reliable partner – it's also about doing what is right. While these additional visas will help us get more of our Afghan allies to safety, thousands are still at grave risk of being left behind as the Taliban continues to hunt them down. I will keep fighting so we can bring every one of our allies to safety.” 

Last week, Shaheen led a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership urging that the final Senate State and Foreign Operations (SFOPS) appropriations bill upholds our commitment to the Afghan SIV program and includes 20,000 additional visas.  Last summer, Shaheen secured 20,000 SIVs in the FY 2024 SFOPS appropriations bill, which allowed the negotiations that have now resulted in the 12,000 visas in the final bill. The increase followed a report written by Shaheen, which detailed systemic issues with the program and proposed policy changes to improve its implementation, including a significant visa increase. Senator Shaheen has long led on efforts to reform and improve the Afghan SIV program, having partnered with the late Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to create the program that protects Afghans who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Shaheen has a history of breaking through Senate gridlock to support the Afghan SIV program, ending a standstill over its authorization when she fought to secure an extension of the program and to procure additional visas in the government funding bill for fiscal year 2023. She has led bipartisan efforts in Congress to authorize additional Afghan SIVs, including working with Senator Wicker (R-MS) to reintroduce the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2023 and her bipartisan legislation with Senator Ernst (R-IA) that was signed into law in 2021 amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan following consistent calls from Shaheen to improve the pathway to safety for Afghan allies.