US visa delays deemed unlawful in a breakthrough case for SIV applicants

The International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) has been working with Afghan and Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applicants who are in a programme established as a pathway to safety for people who provided support to U.S. troops, diplomats, and contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq and who face life-threatening danger in retaliation for their assistance. IRAP filed a lawsuit on behalf of the SIV applicants who have been living in grave danger for over nine months waiting for the United States Government to make a decision on their applications.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that the delays in processing the plaintiffs’ applications are unreasonable and unlawful, and ordered the government to submit a plan for processing those long-delayed applications expeditiously. IRAP anticipates that this victory could benefit over 7,500 Afghan and Iraqi allies and their families.

Although Congress mandated that SIV applicants should receive a decision on their application within nine months of submission, the plaintiffs had waited many years for a resolution. IRAP is understandably “thrilled” with this ruling which “could finally bring relief to these men and women and their families who have been waiting in fear for far too long,” according to Deepa Alagesan, International Refugee Assistance Project.

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