SIV: Special Immigrant Visa

Human Rights First

The Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) program allows Afghans who face threats or danger due to their work with the U.S. Government or its contractors in Afghanistan to resettle in the United States.

To be eligible, Afghans must have been employed in Afghanistan by or on behalf of the U.S. Government or by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for at least one year since October 7, 2001.

SIV allows eligible individuals and their eligible family members to apply for permanent residence in the United States.

People who receive SIVs enter the U.S. with lawful permanent residence (also known as a green card).


People who served the United States and its contractors in these roles are eligible for the SIV program:

  • Interpreters and Translators
  • U.S. Government Direct-Hire Employees
  • Contractors with U.S. Government Installation Badges
  • Afghan third party contractors or subcontractors employed on behalf of U.S. government entities such as USAID
  • Other U.S. government contractors

SIV applicants can included their spouses and unmarried children younger than age 21 in their application.

If an employee of the U.S. government performed at least 15 years of service or was killed in the line of duty, spouses or children may be granted SIVs.

Who are you?

I am an Afghan national who has worked with the U.S. Armed Forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority as a translator or interpreter for a period of at least 12 months:

I am an Afghan national who has been employed by the U.S. Government or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for at least two years between 2001 and 2021.

Family Members

A primary applicant’s spouse and all unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to adjust their status under the primary’s application. The age of the unmarried child is frozen on the date that Form I-360 was filed.

For More Information

Important Notes

  • While your SIV application is pending, you may apply for humanitarian parole or be eligible for other alternative options.
  • If you have already been scheduled for an interview or were interviewed as a refugee but are eligible for the SIV, you can file both applications simultaneously.
  • The refugee and SIV programs differ in process and eligibility, but both processes take several months to complete.
  • Registration and application for either program is not a guarantee of eventual admission to the U.S.

The application process

Apply for Chief of Mission (COM) approval with the Department of State.  If you have already received COM approval, proceed to step 2. 

To receive COM approval, individuals must include the following documents in a single email pdf document to [email protected]: 

  • A human resources letter 
  • A letter of recommendation 
  • Completed and signed Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application  
  • Evidence of Afghan nationality, such as an Afghan passport or tazkera, with English translation 
  • Statement of threats received as a consequence of the qualifying employment 
  • A copy of identity badge from a qualifying employer 
  • A Word document with biographic data 

If a COM request is denied, an individual has 120 days to appeal. For assistance with appealing a COM denial, individuals may request legal assistance from IRAP 

After receiving a COM approval, file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and supporting documentation with USCIS.  

Afghan parolees are exempt from paying fees for Form I-360 based on a Special Immigrant Visa. 

Only the primary applicant needs to complete Form I-360, but it is crucial that they list their spouse and all unmarried children under age 21 on the application. Failure to do so may result in problems for those family members when applying for a green card based on SIV. 

Individuals may scan and email the Form I-360 along with the required documents in PDF format to [email protected] or send the documents in hard copy to the USCIS mailing address.  If filing via email, make sure that attachments are not larger than 11MB.

If you do not receive a receipt notice by email, you must re-submit.  

After receiving the I-360 conditional approval, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS.  A separate Form I-485 is needed for the primary applicant and each eligible family member. 

Afghan parolees are exempt from paying fees for Form I-485 based on a Special Immigrant Visa. 

USCIS may schedule an interview at a USCIS office, or they may approve or deny the application without an interview.  

Once the I-485 is approved, USCIS will mail the lawful permanent resident card (also known as a “green card”) to the address listed on the application. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Processing times vary depending on the case and the applicant, but it can take between 6-7 months to receive COM approval. Afghans waiting for a COM decision can email [email protected] to check the status of their case.

If you are approved, a COM approval letter will be emailed to you with instructions on next steps, including how to file a petition with USCIS.

Send the application and a Form I-360, petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrant to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Nebraska Service Center.  Complete the online visa application and submit appropriate documents. 

An interview and medical exam will be scheduled at a U.S. consulate or embassy in a third country.

A SIV visa will be issued with the successful completion of the application.

Individuals with an approved Form I-360 petition who have questions about their case should email [email protected].