Iraqi SIV Applicants Face Longer Path To Green Card Due to More Security and Background Checks

Iraqi SIV applicants can expect even longer delays in processing due to a more extensive background check process out of concerns for U.S. national security.

The end of the long road to a green card used to be the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy, the background checks having been done before this stage.

Now, under a new policy, background checks are done again at the time of the interview to ensure no new negative information about the applicant has surfaced.

These delays are also occurring with Iraqi SIV applicants who are already in the United States and applying to adjust their status there. [The SIV (Special Immigrant Visa) is available to eligible Iraqis who have worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for more than a year since March 20, 2003 and have experienced an ongoing serious threat because of that work.]

Our clients began experiencing these delays late last year. These delays can last weeks or months, or worse, years. There is no way of knowing when the person will be cleared and there is almost no way to rush the process.

For the Iraqis already in the United States, the delays are an inconvenience since most are in another valid status. For the Iraqis oversees, and in particular those still in Iraq, however, the delay puts their lives more at risk, thereby undermining the purpose of the SIV. Knowing a long wait exists may also be a deterrant for those seeking legal immigration, provoking  into attempting illegal migration to the United States or elsewhere.

We wish something could be done to speed up this clearance process, but there is little to do but wait at this point. Eventually, after an excessive wait –  normally excessive in the immigration context is years, not months – litigation may be an option.

The trigger for the revised and enhanced background check process was the arrest in the United States of an Iraqi who was admitted as an asylee despite being accused of planting roadside bombs in Iraq, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.

As a result, more than 58,000 Iraqi asylees and refugees already in the United States will be re-screened, according to the Los Angeles Times article. In addition, those applying for asylee, refugee or SIV status will be subjected to a multi-step background check that due to the work overload on the agencies involved in this process inevitably will delay their application process

The following is an excerpt from an USCIS report on Iraqi refugee statistics that explains the revised background check posture.

Ensuring Security

We are committed to conducting the most rigorous screening in order to ensure that those being admitted through the refugee program are not seeking to harm the United States. In May 2007, DHS announced and implemented an Administration-coordinated, enhanced background and security check process for Iraqi refugees applying for resettlement in the United States. The security check regime, including both biographic and biometric checks, has been enhanced periodically over the last several years as new opportunities and interagency partnerships with the law enforcement and intelligence communities have been identified.

These enhancements are a reflection of the commitment of DHS and other agencies to conduct the most thorough checks possible to prevent dangerous individuals from gaining access to the United States through the refugee program. The latest enhancement to the refugee security check regime involves a new “pre-departure” check shortly before refugees are scheduled to travel to the U.S. It is intended to identify whether any new derogatory information exists since the initial checks were conducted. These pre-departure checks went into effect in late 2010. No case is finally approved until results from all security checks have been received and analyzed.


4 Responses to Iraqi SIV Applicants Face Longer Path To Green Card Due to More Security and Background Checks

  1. mohammed says:

    May god burn those two iraqis in hell, because of them i facing HARD TIME RIGHT NOW IN us.despite the fact that i worked for US gov. in Iraq

  2. Oppressed Interpreter says:

    What doesn’t make sense to me is putting Interpreters who are SIV applicants into further security measures because of IOM mistake!!! why ???,these Interpreters risked their lives everyday serving American Forces ,they could be the only Iraqis who believed in the cause and ready to die for it,American Authorities cannot tell the difference between the Iraqi heroes and two scumbags who were not Interpreters ,but took advantage of the IOM system not SIV which is designed to let just anybody to immigrate to the states,and now Interpreter’s lives on jeopardy because of such pathetic reason to re-screen them as if they have never been screened before!!!!!!,Interpreters get detailed security screening every 6 months while working for US ARMY,how come nobody mentioned that!!!!!!

  3. I think that delay is not a problem, its better to be sure than sorry by conducting thorough background check is the best thing to do. I feel comfortable that there is such an action which is really reasonable enough for such dealy.

  4. Shwan says:

    It is so weird that all this extra checks only apply for older SIV cases which they applied and completed Baghdad US embassy interview and their passports are still there with no visa since last year while new cases applied in 2012 and run through fast process and gained visa and flew to the states, what is wrong with older cases, please review and take them in consideration.

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