Special Immigrant Visa (SIV)
Who is eligible?
July 20, 2012
Iraqi nationals who have worked with the U.S. government may be eligible for one of the two Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) programs. Each SIV program has different requirements.
(ARABIC PDF from Travel.State.Gov)
- The applicant must be a national of Iraq.
- The applicant must have been employed by, or on behalf of the United States Government in Iraq, on or after March 20, 2003, for at least one year.
- The applicant must have provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government, which is documented in a letter of recommendation from the employee’s supervisor that is approved by the Chief of Mission (COM).
- The applicant must have experienced or be experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of his/her employment by the United States Government.
- The applicant must be a national of Iraq.
- The applicant must have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator or interpreter for a period of at least one year.
- The applicant must have obtained a favorable written recommendation from a General or Flag Officer, or from the Chief of Mission from the Embassy where he/she worked.
IMPORTANT: There is an annual limitation of 50 visas in this category. Given this limit, many individuals opt to apply for the other SIV category. For information about the SIV program for Iraqi and Afghan translators/interpreters, please visit Travel.state.gov.
The Refugee Resettlement Program: Some SIV applicants may also be eligible to apply for the U.S. refugee resettlement program. Refugee processing is handled by a different office within the Embassy – for information on the refugee program coordinated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), please visit the Office of Refugee and Internally Displaced Person Affairs.
How do I apply?
Step One: Obtain Chief of Mission (COM) or a General’s Recommendation: The first step in applying for a Special Immigrant Visa depends on which SIV program you have selected.
- If you are applying for the Special Immigrant Visa Program for Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government (also known as the Kennedy Program), request Chief of Mission approval. Submit a letter of recommendation*, evidence of ongoing serious threat, form DS-157, and other supporting documentation to IraqSIVapplication@state.gov. Read additional details.
- If you are applying for the Interpreter/Translator program, obtain a written recommendation* from a General or Flag Officer in your chain of command or from the Chief of Mission from the Embassy where you worked. Read additional information on the requirements of these recommendations.
*Letters of Recommendation: To Facilitate the application process, the Department of State has partnered with the Department of Defense to provide a web-based Supervisor Locator Program for Special Immigrant Visa applicants. This service will help Iraqi nationals who worked with the U.S. military to locate former supervisors and obtain letters of recommendation. For more information on the Supervisor Locator Service, please click here.
Step Two: Filing the petition with USCIS: File the immigrant visa petition (Form I-360) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Department of State has partnered with USCIS to allow electronic submission of the form I-360, the SIV petition. This modification will help to make the process easier, efficient and faster.
SIV applicants who complete the form I-360 may now scan and email it directly to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) at NSCI360IVAPP@uscis.dhs.gov. The NSC will process the form and upon receipt, will send a receipt to the email address written on the form. If there is no email address submitted with the form, the receipt will be sent electronically to the email address from which the petition was submitted. For more information on the I-360 electronic submission service, please click here.
Please note that if you submit your I-360 by email, that you must bring the same original, signed Form I-360 that was submitted to NSC with you to the consular interview.
If you are applying as an Iraqi Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government (also known as the Kennedy Program), please, read additional details on the petition process. If you are applying for the Iraqi Translator program, please read more details. You may also send an email to USCIS at SIVTranslator.NSC@dhs.gov with any questions regarding the petition process or required documentation.
Step Three: National Visa Center: Once USCIS approves your petition, they will forward it to NVC. NVC will then contact you with instructions on submitting the necessary forms and personal documents. They will then schedule your visa interview and forward the case to the Embassy in Baghdad. Please make sure you provide NVC with your current email address. If NVC told you they are processing your petition, you may reach them at NVCSIV@state.gov. Additional information on the NVC part of the process can be found by clicking here.
Step Four: The Visa Interview: NVC will send your file to the Embassy. All family members over the age of 14 must appear in person at the interview. For detailed instructions on obtaining the required medical exam, gathering the necessary documents and translations, or accessing the International Zone for your interview, please contact us. Each applicant for the Iraqi Interpreter/Translator program must pay $379 U.S. dollars in cash at the time of the interview. There is no fee for applicants applying for the Iraqi Who Worked for or on Behalf of the U.S. Government (also known as the Kennedy Program).
Resettlement assistance: Special Immigrant Visa applicants are able to obtain resettlement assistance. The Benefits Election Form in your instruction package from NVC explains the resettlement benefits available to you. Complete the Resettlement Benefits Election Form and return a scanned copy to the National Visa Center at NVCSIV@state.gov. Please see step 5 for additional details on the process.
You may find more information in our Frequently Asked Questions about visas.
Expeditious Processing Requests: All Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants must demonstrate they have experienced a threat in the past or feel they are currently under threat. Therefore, while the Embassy is sensitive to the security concerns faced by all SIV applicants, expeditious processing is not available solely on the basis of ongoing threat.
Certain SIV applicants may be eligible to request an expedited appointment and/or expeditious processing of their case under specific circumstances, primarily on the basis of urgent medical conditions. To view our policy and criteria for requesting expeditious processing, please click here.