Shaheen’s Amendment to Increase the Number of Visas for Afghan Interpreters is Included in Defense Bill

Bicameral National Defense Authorization Act Includes Her Proposal to Authorize 3,000 Additional Special Immigrant Visas

September 29, 2015

(Washington, DC) –Following the unveiling of a Senate and House agreement on the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act this afternoon, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed the inclusion of her provision to substantially increase the number of Special Immigrant Visas for Afghans who assisted American personnel in Afghanistan and face threats as a result. This increase of 3,000 visas will help address the backlog of Afghan interpreters seeking refuge in the United States.

 

“We must honor our commitment to the brave civilians who provided critical assistance to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan,” Senator Shaheen said. “For many of these interpreters, their faithful service to our country has put their lives in jeopardy.  Taking steps to ensure their safety is a national security imperative and a moral obligation.”

 

The Shaheen provision increases the total number of Special Immigrant Visas for eligible Afghans from 4,000 to 7,000.

 

Senator Shaheen, along with Senator John McCain (R-AZ), has led ongoing bipartisan efforts in Congress to improve the Special Immigrant Visa program and pass extensions to ensure the program remains in operation. Senator Shaheen is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee which authored this legislation with the corresponding committee in the House.

 

In June of this year, Senator Shaheen successfully included this provision as an amendment to the Senate’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act.