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Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Votes to Protect Afghan Partners and Expedite SIV Process

Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) voted in support of H.R. 3985, the Averting Loss of Life and Injury by Expediting SIVs (ALLIES) Act, a bill designed to protect our country’s Afghan partners and expedite the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) process as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan. Congresswoman Fletcher is a co-sponsor of this bipartisan legislation, which passed the House of Representatives, 407-16. 

“Our Afghan partners have worked bravely with American forces, providing vital support to the U.S. mission despite the threats they receive as direct result of their service.  We have an obligation to protect them,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher.  “Unfortunately, the SIV application process faces severe backlogs.  We recently welcomed one translator’s family to our district after a ten-year delay on his SIV application cost him his life.  This backlog of applications and slow processing time has real and tragic consequences for our partners.  

“With a quickly changing situation in Afghanistan, and with many more of our partners still waiting for their SIVs, I was glad to co-sponsor this bipartisan legislation to help fulfill our obligation to our Afghan allies by improving access to visas.  Passing this legislation today is an important step in demonstrating our commitment to our allies.” 

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 faces long backlogs, with wait times routinely stretching for years.  

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Fletcher helped the family of an Afghan translator gain humanitarian parole to arrive to safety in the United States.  The translator had waited for ten years for his SIV application to be processed.  His application finally received initial approval last December, but the Taliban killed him in January of this year before he could immigrate to the U.S. 

The ALLIES Act would increase the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas and remove burdensome requirements that slow down the application process without impacting national security.  

Specifically, the ALLIES Act does the following:

  • Increases the Afghan SIV cap by an additional 8,000 visas;
  • Removes the requirement for a “credible sworn statement” regarding the threat applicants face for having worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government, since both public and clandestine reporting confirm that Afghans who have worked for the U.S. face heightened risk of retribution from the Taliban; 
  • Removes the requirement for International Security Assistance Force or Resolute Support employment to have been “sensitive and trusted,” updating the standard to reflect changes made in the FY2020 NDAA for Afghan partners who worked directly for the U.S. government; 
  • Removes the duplicative I-360 petition procedure, streamlining the application process and preventing fraudulent petitions; and
  • Expands eligibility to include surviving spouses and children of SIV applicants who died before visa approval, a vulnerable group that is still under threat due to their family member’s service.