WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a combat veteran and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, helped unanimously pass her bipartisan measure, with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), to protect Afghan civilians who assisted the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
Ernst is the lead Republican cosponsor on the bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Act, which would expedite efforts to improve and increase the number of visas extended to Afghans who assisted the U.S. during the War on Terror.
“The Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was created to provide a well-vetted pathway to safety for the many Afghan civilians who have stepped up to assist the U.S. during the War on Terror. Given the Biden Administration’s haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan, we must now fulfill our commitment to those who put themselves in harm’s way by ensuring the program has the capacity to fully process and help bring these individuals to safety. I’m grateful Democrats and Republicans came together to do exactly that,” said Senator Joni Ernst.
The bipartisan Afghan Allies Protection Act, which was included in a larger package that passed the Senate unanimously today, would provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program, by:
- Increasing the number of authorized visas by 8,000;
- Changing the employment requirement for eligibility from two years to one year;
- Postponing the required medical exam until the applicant and their family have arrived in the United States;
- Broadening SIV eligibility to include Afghans who provided military logistics support, alongside translators and others supporting sensitive and trusted U.S. military operations; and
- Providing for Special Immigrant status for certain surviving spouses and children of murdered applicants.