May 10, 2018

Kaine & Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Legislation To Extend Visa Program For Afghan Interpreters, Support Staff

Legislation would authorize 4,000 additional visas for individuals who risked their lives to protect Americans 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and a bipartisan group of colleagues to introduce legislation to further extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program (SIV). The program allows Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. This legislation authorizes 4,000 additional visas for the next fiscal year and takes additional steps to strengthen Afghan SIV processing and vetting.

“Countless Afghan civilians have played a valuable role in supporting the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. Their tireless work has saved American lives and we owe it to them to ensure those who have supported us and now face threats as a result of their service have the opportunity to apply for refuge in the United States,” Kaine said.

Kaine has been a longtime supporter of efforts to ensure Afghan civilians who have supported the U.S. mission can apply for refuge in the United States. In 2013, Kaine’s staff assisted a Virginia constituent, U.S. Army Captain Matthew Zeller, with his efforts to help Janis Shinwari, an interpreter who saved Zeller’s life in Afghanistan, secure his SIV. In March 2014, Kaine wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Department of State to expedite SIV processing for civilians like Janis who served alongside Americans in Afghanistan. And In May 2014, Kaine introduced the bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Extension Act to extend and reform the SIV program for Afghan civilians who risked their lives working with the U.S. government, American media, and non-profit organizations, which successfully passed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act that year.