Crow, Wenstrup Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expedite Application Process for Afghan SIV Recipients

May 20, 2021
Press Release

HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act Would Temporarily Waive Medical Examination Requirements for SIV Applicants 

WASHINGTON - Today, Reps. Jason Crow (D-CO) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) introduced the Honoring Our Promises through Expedition [HOPE] for Afghan SIVs Act of 2021. This bipartisan legislation would waive the requirement for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants to undergo a medical examination while in Afghanistan. 

The Afghan SIV Program was created in 2009 to provide safety for Afghan interpreters, contractors, and security personnel who worked with the U.S. government in Afghanistan. The application process has been plagued by delays since the program was established and faces severe backlogs, with wait times routinely stretching for years. 

Since the Biden Administration announced their plans to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, Crow has called on the Administration to expedite this visa process, as SIV applicants and their families are increasingly under threat by the Taliban. 

Among the bureaucratic hurdles facing SIV applicants, many have cited the medical examination requirement, which can cost thousands of dollars, as a serious delay in the process. There is currently only one facility in Kabul that conducts all immigrant visa examinations for the entire country, forcing applicants from the outer provinces to travel to Kabul in often dangerous circumstances. 

“When I served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I worked closely with local interpreters and contractors who were critical to our safety and success. Without their help, I may not be here today,” said Congressman Jason Crow. “The U.S. must honor our promises and protect our Afghan partners whose lives are now at risk by the Taliban. We can help expedite the SIV process by waiving the medical examination requirement in Afghanistan, which is cost prohibitive and difficult for many applicants to safely receive. The HOPE for Afghan SIVs Act is bipartisan, common-sense legislation that can help save lives.” 

“When I deployed to Iraq, my unit was aided by local interpreters who knew their actions came at great cost to themselves and their families. Like them, our Afghan allies have been indispensable in our fight against terrorism. With the Administration’s deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan fast approaching, we cannot forget their sacrifices on our behalf. In many cases, it’s untenable for them to remain in their home country due to active death threats for helping America, and our interpreters and other local allies are in mortal danger,” said Congressman Brad Wenstrup. "I’m proud to join this legislation, which provides temporary flexibility to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program to make sure we don’t leave our friends behind.”

In April, Crow led a bipartisan effort calling on President Biden to expedite SIV and the U.S. Refugee Admissions Programs for Afghan citizens who have worked to support U.S. operations in Afghanistan. The bipartisan group of lawmakers also created the ‘Honoring our Promises Working Group’ to expedite legislative efforts.

You can find bill text here.

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