USCIS Updates Guidance for Afghans and Iraqis Seeking Special Immigrant Classification

August 15, 2022

By Immigration Group

This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated guidance regarding Afghan and Iraqi nationals seeking special immigrant classification. Effective immediately, the new guidance:

  • Explains that noncitizens seeking an Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) on or after July 20, 2022, must file Form DS-157, Petition for Special Immigrant Classification for Afghan SIV Applicants, with the Department of State when they are applying for Chief of Mission approval. In some circumstances, noncitizens must still file a petition with USCIS to pursue an Afghan SIV;
  • Updates eligibility criteria to reflect that the employment requirement for an Afghan SIV is now one year and clarifies what type of employment with the International Security Assistance Force qualifies;
  • Updates eligibility criteria for surviving spouses and children of deceased principal noncitizens to expand the scope of who may apply for Afghan and Iraqi SIVs;
  • In cases where a visa is not immediately available, removes the date limitation to convert an approved petition for an Afghan or Iraqi translator or interpreter to an approved petition for an Iraqi or Afghan employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government; and
  • Clarifies statutory requirements that a noncitizen seeking an Afghan or Iraqi SIV must establish that they provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government by submitting a positive recommendation or evaluation from their supervisor.