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Are there any special visas for translators who assisted US forces in Afghanistan or Iraq?

Under United States immigration law, there are two Special Immigrant Visas available for Iraqi citizens or nationals who have worked for the United States. These visas allow qualifying individuals to come to the United States as green card holders. One is offered for translators and interpreters with the United States armed forces; the second is for Iraqis who have worked for or on behalf of the United States government. The two programs are distinct, although some translators or interpreters may qualify under both programs.

To qualify for the special immigrant visa for translators and interpreters, an applicant must be a national of Iraq; must have worked directly with the U.S. Armed Forces or the U.S. Embassy Baghdad or U.S. Embassy Kabul as a translator or interpreter for not less than one year; and must have a letter of recommendation from a General or Flag Officer in the unit the translator supported, or from the Chief of Mission from the embassy where the translator worked. There are 50 visas available each year in this category. An applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also be granted visas.

To qualify for the special immigrant visa for Iraqis who have worked for or on behalf of the United States, an applicant must be a national of Iraq; must have worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year between March 20, 2003, and September 30, 2013; must have a letter of recommendation from a supervisor which states that the applicant provided “faithful and valuable service” to the government; and must have faced, or be currently facing, an ongoing serious threat because of the applicant’s work for the U.S. government. There are 2,500 visas available for this program, which currently ends on September 30, 2014. Applications must apply on or before that date. Again, an applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also be granted visas.

To apply for either of these programs, an applicant must submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, to the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services. The applicant must include proof of Iraqi nationality (such as a birth certificate or national identification card, along with a certified translation), and the supporting documents listed above. The fee for a visa application for translators or interpreters is $375. There is no fee associated with a visa application for Iraqis who have worked for the U.S. government.

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