Shaheen’s Bill to Protect Afghan Allies through SIV Program Included in Supplemental Security Spending Bill

July 27, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, today announced she successfully secured the inclusion of key provisions from her bill with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the Afghan Allies Protection Act, in the supplemental spending measure for security needs. Her legislation helps protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Specifically, the measure would increase the number of authorized visas by 8,000, clear unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles while maintaining the program’s integrity and improve the program’s efficiency ahead of the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.   

“In light of increasing violence and concerning territorial gains by the Taliban, a top U.S. priority must be ensuring the safety of our Afghan allies who are now vulnerable targets – before it’s too late. My bill, which expands the number of authorized visas, streamlines the SIV program and broadens program eligibility, will help do just that. That’s why its inclusion in the supplemental security bill today is so critical,” said Shaheen. “Not only do we owe it to our Afghan partners to uphold our promise of safety after they stood beside U.S. troops on the battlefield, but we risk major national security implications if we fail to follow through. Strengthening the SIV program is the right thing to do, and I’m pleased we’re now one step closer to passing this bill in Congress.”  

The legislation would provide immediate improvements and strengthen efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, including by:    

  • Increasing the number of authorized visas;    
  • Changing the employment requirement for eligibility from two years to one year;    
  • Postponing the required medical exam until the applicant and their family have arrived in the United States;     
  • Removing the “sensitive and trusted” requirement for International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support employment; and    
  • Providing for Special Immigrant status for certain surviving spouses and children of murdered applicants.    

Full text of the legislation is available here.    

Senator Shaheen is leading the bipartisan effort in the Senate to strengthen the SIV program and protect Afghan allies who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission through her bill, the Afghan Allies Protection Act. The bill would increase the number of authorized visas, remove extraneous paperwork requirements and improve the program’s efficiency. She historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on this priority. In the fiscal year 2021 government funding legislation that was signed into law, Senator Shaheen secured an additional 4,000 Afghan SIVs. Recently, she participated in a panel discussion hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to discuss the urgent need to protect Afghan allies by bolstering the SIV program.  

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