House Votes to pass Crow Legislation to Increase Visa Cap for Afghan Interpreters, Other Partners and Streamline Visa Process
WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), to increase the visa cap for Afghan interpreters and other partners and expedite the visa process.
The Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act makes important changes to the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program to improve visa processing and ensure that the lives of those who served side by side with American troops in Afghanistan are protected.
“For twenty years, Afghan interpreters, guides, and other partners have served alongside U.S. forces, helping us complete our mission. I may not be here today were it not for the bravery and sacrifice of the Afghan men and women who worked with me during my service,” said Rep. Jason Crow. “As we withdraw from Afghanistan, we must honor our promises and protect those that protected us. The ALLIES Act increases the visa cap for our Afghan partners and improves the visa process so that we can process visas safely and efficiently. Time is running out for us to do the right thing and I am grateful for the support of my colleagues to pass this bill.”
The ALLIES Act would:
- Increase the SIV allotment by an additional 8,000 visas to cover all potentially eligible applicants currently in the pipeline;
- Amend the credible threat requirement, removing the necessity for applicants to provide additional paperwork to establish a credible threat we know exists for applicants with verified U.S. government ties;
- Strengthen protections for surviving spouses and children, allowing them to retain eligibility if the primary SIV applicant dies before visa approval;
- Clarify eligibility for certain Afghans who worked for Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) under cooperative agreements and grants with the U.S. government, including those performing critical democracy, human rights, and governance work;
- Remove the requirement for International Security Assistance Force or Resolute Support employment to be “sensitive and trusted”, expanding the field of qualified applicants; and
- Eliminate redundant paperwork by giving the Departments of Homeland Security the flexibility not to require a I-360 petition in cases where the State Department has already determined an applicant’s eligibility through the Chief of Mission process.
The Biden Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy on the ALLIES Act, stating, “This legislation supports the President’s goal of ensuring the United States meets our commitments to those who served with us in Afghanistan… H.R. 3985 will assist in our efforts to streamline the application process by removing or revising some statutory requirements the Administration has found to be unnecessary and burdensome, while maintaining appropriate security vetting, and by increasing the total number of visas available to help meet the demand. These changes...are critical to expediting the application process and helping us get more Afghan partners through the process and into safety.”
The ALLIES Act has the support of high ranking national security, defense, and foreign policy individuals, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretaries of Defense Dr. Robert Gates and Chuck Hagel, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff retired Admiral Michael Mullen, former National Security Advisors Stephen J. Hadley and retired Lt. General H.R. McMaster. Statements of support can be found here.
The ALLIES Act has also been endorsed by The American Legion, No One Left Behind, The National Immigration Forum, Union Veterans Council, VoteVets, Human Rights First, Vets for American Ideals, Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS), Military Chaplains Association of the United States of America (MCA), Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), Reserve Officers of America (ROA), Korean War Veterans Association, American Ex-Prisoners of War, Association of Wartime Allies, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA).
You can find a fact sheet on the bill here.