Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program To End on December 31, 2013

— Domani Spero

We previously posted about Iraqi SIVs in September. (See Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program for Iraqi Nationals to End Sept 30, Or How to Save One Interpreter At a Time).  The Department of State’s authority to issue Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to Iraqi nationals under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 has now been extended until December 31, 2013.  The US Embassy in Iraq cautions that “No matter what stage of the process you are in, all selected and eligible applicants must obtain their visa by December 31, 2013. There is no guarantee that the SIV program authority will be extended; therefore, you are strongly encouraged to act quickly to ensure you have the best possible chance to complete your case by December 31, 2013.” US Mission Iraq has updated its information on the Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program with the following details:

  • Our authority to issue SIVs to principal applicants ends on December 31, 2013. We cannot issue SIVs to any principal applicants after this date.
  • Derivative family members (i.e., spouses, children) of principal applicants who were issued SIVs can still be issued SIVs after December 31, 2013.
  • Applicants are advised to check their email accounts and consult our website regularly for the most recent information regarding the SIV program.
  • Applicants whose cases are pending for additional documents are advised to send the required documents to our office immediately to the address listed in the instructions we provided to you.  Failure to do so may result in your visa not being issued before the December 31, 2013 deadline (principal applicants).
  • Applicants who have been scheduled for an interview are strongly encouraged to attend their appointment as scheduled.  Given the extremely high demand of appointments, we will be unable to reschedule your appointment, should you be unable to attend your interview.
  • The separate U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for U.S.-affiliated Iraqis remains in place and will continue to be available after December 31, 2013 regardless of whether the Iraqi SIV program ends at that time.  The Embassy encourages SIV applicants to seek out information about the USRAP as the eligibility criteria are very similar to those of the SIV program.  For more information on USRAP, please visit:http://iraq.usembassy.gov/refugeesidpaffairs.html.

Click here for more details including frequently asked questions.

Unless extended by Congress, the State Department’s authority to issue Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) to Afghan nationals will also expire in September 2014.

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US Mission Iraq: No Iraqi Visas Issued to USG Security Personnel Since December?

The Iraq Travel Warning dated January 19, 2012 saysthat “the ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.”

Apparently the “extremely limited” response even includes the issuance of visas for USG security personnel in Iraq.

In our mailbox is the following email:

“No visas have been issued to security personnel since December and there is no straight answer coming from the Department of State or the Ministry of Interior.”

One of our correspondents is concerned that this situation “will result in loss of life” as their “ability to protect continues to be compromised.”

The State Department’s current Travel Warning says that“The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S.

US State Department contract security, Interna...

US State Department contract security, International (Green) Zone, Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador must follow strict safety procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.”

If so, how does the “strict security” guidelines and “strict safety procedures” work if the protective security details are missing due to the sticky wheel on the visa bus?

On February 8, 2012 WaPo reported that the US Embassy Baghdad compound was locked down for nearly all of December out of security concerns, and the vast majority of U.S. personnel rarely leave its confines.

“U.S. trainers for middle- and senior-level police officials, located for convenience across the street from Iraq’s national police headquarters and police academy, have been unable to cross that street without heavy security and have largely ceased any outside movement.”

One can only hope that they are not in permanent lock down as they’re rightsizing.  We understand that the US Mission in Baghdad was expected to have 16,000 personnel.  About 2,000 are reportedly diplomats and 14,000 are private security and life support contractors.

How much of the expected 5,000-7,000 security personnel made it to Iraq before the visa clamp down came down in December?  And if true that no visas had been issued to USG security personnel since December, how is that impacting the mobility and security of our embassy personnel? Has it been in lock down since the military left?

We have reached out to the US Embassy Baghdad on the visa issue last week and will update this post if we ever get a response. We say if because we’ve had very limited success in getting a response even from their Press Office, except on the few occasion when somebody there had a personal blog to plug in.

If you’re reading this from Baghdad, we’d like to hear if you’ve been forced to telecommute from the bunker due to limited availability of personal security support.

Domani Spero