At the Urging of Senator Shaheen, Additional Afghan Visas for Interpreters and Support Staff Included in Government Funding Bill to Avert a Lapse in the Program

May 01, 2017

**In March, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul officially stopped scheduling interviews citing a lack of remaining Special Immigrant Visas**

**Shaheen, a member of the Appropriations Committee, led a letter to Appropriations leadership calling for additional visas in the FY2017 funding bill**

(Washington, DC) - U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) released the following statement after 2500 visas for Afghan interpreters and support staff were included in the government funding bill released last night. In March, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee urging inclusion of 2500 additional visas in legislation to fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2017. 

"This is potentially a life-saving development," said Shaheen. "I'm tremendously relieved that this bipartisan agreement includes additional visas for Afghan interpreters and support staff. Allowing this program to lapse would send the message to our allies in Afghanistan that the United States has abandoned them. It’s both a moral and practical imperative that Congress approve additional visas. Thousands of Afghans have put themselves, and their families, at risk to help our soldiers and diplomats accomplish the U.S. mission and return home safely. Going forward, it's critical that Congress overcome obstruction to this program and regularly replenish the number of visas available to avoid future brinkmanship. The lives of Afghan interpreters and support staff literally hang in the balance."

In March, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul officially stopped scheduling interviews for Afghan Special Immigrant Visas, citing a lack of remaining visas, which are authorized by Congress. The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program allows Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. The SIV program has been championed by Senator Shaheen and Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who have fought to replenish the number of visas available to Afghan support staff.