December 15, 2014

FaegreBDC, IRAP Collaborate on Pro Bono Victory Resulting in 4,000 Afghan Ally Visas

On Dec. 12, Congress passed an extension and expansion of the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, which protects Afghan interpreters who supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. An additional 4,000 SIV's were included in the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2015.

FaegreBD Consulting's Managing Advisor Beena Patel and Director Josh Andrews provided federal affairs assistance on a pro bono basis to the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) to get the legislation passed.

Had the program not been extended, it would have expired three weeks from today, leaving thousands of Afghan allies in danger with no way to seek safety in the U.S. Because of this bill, the U.S. will now be more apt to support Afghan allies, who, along with their families, have faced torture, kidnapping, and death threats as a direct result of their dedication to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

This extension builds on the August passage of the Emergency Afghan Allies Extension Act of 2014, which amended the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009 by authorizing 1,000 additional Afghan SIVs, raising the cap from 3,000 to 4,000. Patel and Andrews assisted IRAP with this act, as well.

The 4,000 additional visas, available for the next two years, will enable the State Department to restart the SIV program in full and will compensate for visas lost due to expiration without a renewal option.

"This represents a significant victory for thousands of Afghans who have until now found their visa applications indefinitely suspended in the bureaucratic pipeline," Becca Heller, Director of IRAP, said in a statement. "Over the past several months, due to a lack of visas, the SIV program in Afghanistan has effectively ceased to function as a viable protection mechanism. Today's reform marks a step towards repairing the damage caused by earlier bureaucratic neglect, and does justice to the loyalty and sacrifice of America's allies."

FaegreBD Consulting is committed to working with IRAP and members of Congress on a long-term solution to keep our American allies safe.

Read IRAP's press release.
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