Bipartisan bill would help sustain Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program

July 21, 2014

(Washington, DC) – Continuing their bipartisan effort to honor the service of the Afghan civilians who assisted U.S. efforts in their country, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John McCain (R-AZ) have introduced legislation to address a pressing shortfall in the number of visas available to deserving applicants for the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. The Afghan SIV program provides visas to Afghans who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats from terrorists as a result. This legislation responds directly to warnings from Secretary of State John Kerry that the State Department is on the verge of running out of visas for Fiscal Year 2014, potentially leaving hundreds of deserving Afghans stuck in limbo, at risk of being killed by the Taliban. This bipartisan bill authorizes an additional 1,000 visas for the Afghan SIV program for the current fiscal year.

“The brave civilians who risked their lives and that of their families to help our country during a time of war deserve to have their commitment honored and find safe haven,” Senator Shaheen said. “We must make good on American promises to our Afghan allies who are now living in fear of retribution because they believed in our mission enough to risk their lives for it. They cannot wait; it is essential Congress pass this bipartisan bill so we can come one step closer to keeping that promise for all who served. ”

"We have a responsibility to honor the promises we made to the Afghan men and women who risked their lives and those of their families to assist American forces,” Senator McCain said. “They have been a critical resource to our troops throughout the past decade and it would be unconscionable to abandon these brave individuals who are now in danger for their service to the United States’ mission in Afghanistan."

Shaheen and McCain have led ongoing bipartisan efforts to extend and reform the SIV program, and last year helped prevent the Iraq program from expiring by pushing Congress to unanimously pass short-term and long-term extensions of the Iraq program.