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Chapter 10 - Certain Iraqi and Afghan Translators and Interpreters

A. Number of Visas

Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006 (NDAA 2006), entitled “Special Immigrant Status for Persons Serving as Translators with United States Armed Forces,” authorized the issuance of up to 50 special immigrant visas per fiscal year to Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters working for the U.S. government.[1] Congress increased the total number of special immigrant visas issued under the interpreter and translator program to a total of 500 principal applicants per year for Fiscal Years 2007 and 2008 only.[2]

B. Filing

Iraqi and Afghan nationals who worked directly with the U.S. armed forces or under Chief of Mission (COM) authority at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul as translators or interpreters may file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) on their own behalf. The petitioner must file Form I-360 with the proper fee, according to the form instructions.[3]

C. Eligibility

To obtain approval of a petition for special immigrant status as an Iraqi or Afghan translator or interpreter under the NDAA 2006, the petitioner must establish that he or she:

  • Is a national of Iraq or Afghanistan;

  • Worked directly as a translator or interpreter with the U.S. armed forces, or under COM authority, for a period of at least 12 months;

  • Has obtained a favorable written recommendation from the COM or a general or flag officer in the chain of command of the U.S. armed forces unit supported by the translator or interpreter;

  • Has cleared a background check and appropriate screening as determined by the COM or a general or flag officer in the chain of command of the U.S. armed forces unit supported by the translator or interpreter; and

  • Is otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence.[4]

D. Automatic Conversion for Approved Translators and Interpreters

A petitioner with an approved petition for special immigrant status as an Afghan or Iraqi translator or interpreter under Section 1059 of NDAA 2006, for whom a visa under such section is not immediately available, is eligible for conversion of the approved petition to that of an Iraqi or Afghan employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government under Section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2008,[5] with respect to petitions that are filed on or before September 30, 2008. In such cases, the approval will be counted against available section 1244 visa numbers, but in all substantive respects eligibility is determined under Section 1059 rather than under the different eligibility requirements of Section 1244.[6]

E. Documentation and Evidence

The petitioner must submit the following evidence along with a completed Form I-360:

  • A copy of the petitioner’s passport or nationality or birth certificate showing that the petitioner is a national of Iraq or Afghanistan, along with a certified English translation, if the document is in a foreign language;

  • Proof, issued by the U.S. armed forces or the COM, of working as a translator or interpreter for at least 12 months;

  • Proof of background check and screening by the U.S. armed forces or the COM;

  • A letter of recommendation from the COM, or a general or flag officer in the chain of command of the U.S. armed forces unit supported by the translator or interpreter; and

  • If the petition is filed by a petitioner in the United States, a copy of the front and back of the petitioner’s Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94).

F. Derivative Beneficiaries

The spouse and unmarried child(ren) younger than 21 years old accompanying or following to join a principal immigrant may be accorded the same special immigrant classification as the principal alien. Visas issued to derivative spouses and children do not count toward the cap on special immigrant visas for Iraqi or Afghan translators and interpreters.

If the petition of the principal alien was revoked or terminated after its approval due to the death of the petitioning alien, the spouse or child may be eligible still for a special immigrant visa. This provision is applicable to a petition that included the alien as an accompanying spouse or child, and which, due to the death of the principal alien, was revoked or terminated, but would have been a basis for visa issuance if the principal alien had survived.[7]

Footnotes


[^ 1] See Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. 109-163 (PDF), 119 Stat. 3136, 3443 (January 6, 2006).

[^ 2] See Pub. L. 110-36 (PDF) (June 15, 2007).

[^ 3] For current information about filing locations, fees, and other information about how to file, see uscis.gov/i-360.

[^ 4] In the determination of such admissibility, the grounds for inadmissibility specified in INA 212(a)(4) relating to “public charge” do not apply.

[^ 5] See Pub. L. 110-181 (PDF), 122 Stat. 3, 396 (January 28, 2008).

[^ 6] See Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. 109-163 (PDF), 119 Stat. 3136, 3443 (January 6, 2006). See Pub. L. 110-242 (PDF),  122 Stat. 1567 (June 3, 2008).

[^ 7] See Section 602(2)(C) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Title VI of Pub. L. 111-8 (PDF), 123 Stat. 524, 807 (March 11, 2009).

Resources

Legal Authorities

8 CFR 204.5 - Petitions for employment-based immigrants

8 CFR 204.9 - Special immigrant status for certain aliens who have served honorably (or are enlisted to serve) in the Armed Forces of the United States for at least 12 years

INA 101(a)(27) - Definitions of certain special immigrants

INA 201 - Worldwide level of immigration

INA 202 - Numerical limitations on individual foreign states

INA 203 - Allocation of immigrant visas

INA 203(b)(4) - Certain special immigrants

INA 204(a)(1)(G)(i) - Petitioning procedure

INA 2048 CFR 204 - Procedure for granting immigrant status

Pub. L. 109-163 (PDF) - Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, as amended – Special immigrant status for persons serving as translators with U.S. armed forces

Pub. L. 110-181 (PDF) - Section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as amended – Special immigrant status for certain Iraqis

Pub. L. 111-8 (PDF) - Section 602(b), Title VI of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009

Appendices

No appendices available at this time.

Updates

Technical Update - Incorporating Existing Guidance into the Policy Manual

This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapters 22.3 and 26 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.

Technical Update - Moving the Adjudicator’s Field Manual Content into the USCIS Policy Manual

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].