Chapter 8 - Certain Iraqi Nationals
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (NDAA 2008), which included the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act of 2007 (RCIA), was signed into law on January 28, 2008. Section 1244 of this legislation, entitled “Special Immigrant Status for Certain Iraqis,” created a new category of special immigrant visas for Iraqi nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government, while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq, for not less than 1 year beginning on or after March 20, 2003, and who have experienced or are experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment.
In prior legislation, Congress established a numerical limitation of 5,000 principal aliens who may be provided special immigrant status under this program per year for Fiscal Years 2008 through 2012. The unused number from Fiscal Year 2012 was allocated toward Fiscal Year 2013. Subsequent legislation extended this program until December 31, 2013.
Subsequently, Congress allowed for an additional 2,500 visas to be approved after January 1, 2014, provided that the service occurred between March 20, 2003 and September 30, 2013, and that the alien submitted an application for Chief of Mission (COM), the principal officer in charge of a diplomatic mission, approval by September 30, 2014. Since then, Congress has not modified the deadline or authorized additional visa numbers for Iraqis, effectively terminating the RCIA once all eligible applicants have been issued visas.
An Iraqi citizen or national who has worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government may file a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) on his or her own behalf. The petitioner must file Form I-360 with the proper fee, according to the form instructions.
To obtain approval of a petition for special immigrant status as an Iraqi who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government under the RCIA, the petitioner must establish that he or she:
Is a citizen or national of Iraq;
Was employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. government in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, and before September 30, 2013, for a period of not less than 1 year;
Provided faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government;
Has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of the petitioner’s employment by the U.S. government;
Has cleared a background check and appropriate screening as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security; and
Is otherwise eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is otherwise admissible to the United States for permanent residence.
The petitioner must submit the following evidence along with a completed Form I-360:
A copy of the petitioner’s passport, nationality or birth certificate, or national identification card showing that the petitioner is a citizen or national of Iraq, along with a certified English translation, if the document is in a foreign language;
A positive recommendation from:
U.S. citizen or national who is the petitioner’s senior supervisor;
U.S. citizen or national who occupies the supervisor’s position;
U.S. citizen or national who is more senior if the senior supervisor has left the employer or has left Iraq; or
The alien’s senior supervisor, provided the U.S. citizen or national responsible for the contract co-signs the letter, confirming employment of not less than 1 year beginning on or after March 20, 2003, and ending before September 30, 2013, if it is not possible to obtain a recommendation from a supervisor who is a U.S. citizen or national;
Proof of COM approval based on an independent review of this recommendation conducted by the COM, Embassy Baghdad, or his or her designee, of records maintained by the U.S. government or hiring organization or entity, to confirm employment and faithful and valuable service to the U.S. government;
Proof of risk assessment conducted by the COM, Embassy Baghdad, or his or her designee, establishing that the petitioner has experienced or is experiencing an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of his or her employment by the U.S. government; 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).
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 nationals of Iraq.
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.
[^ 5] See Section 1244(g) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as amended by Section 1 of Pub. L. 110-242 (PDF), 122 Stat. 1567 (June 3, 2008), and Section 1244 of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, as amended by section 1 of Pub. L. 113-42 (PDF), 127 Stat. 552 (October 4, 2013).
[^ 10] See Section 1218 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014, Pub. L. 113-66 (PDF), 127 Stat. 672, 910 (December 26, 2013). Applicants must have applied for COM approval no later than September 30, 2014.
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
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
No appendices available at this time.
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.
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, 327.05 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.
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”].