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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Resettlement Benefits for Iraqi and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Recipients

Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Washington, DC
February 29, 2008

Q: Are there any programs or benefits that an Afghan or Iraqi admitted to the United States under a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) is eligible for?

A: Yes. A new law that took effect on December 26, 2007 established eligibility for refugee benefits for certain Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) recipients. Prior to December 26, 2007, there were no provisions in the law for any type of resettlement or transition benefits as part of the SIV program. Now under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-161) enacted December 26, 2007, certain Iraqi and Afghan SIV recipients are eligible for the same resettlement assistance, entitlement programs, and other benefits as refugees admitted under the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. There is also a similar provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-181), enacted on January 28, 2008, that applies just to Iraqi SIV recipients. Under these laws, Afghans and Iraqis who were admitted to the United States on an SIV on or after December 26, 2007 are eligible to receive resettlement assistance from the Department of State.

Q: Who should I contact to obtain those benefits and services?

A: If you are an Afghan or Iraqi SIV recipient and arrived on or after December 26, 2007, you should contact the Department of State’s Refugee Processing Center at siv@wrapsnet.org. They will direct you to one of the Department of State’s resettlement agencies in your geographic location. You should contact that agency to make an appointment. For your appointment, you and your family members should bring your passports with SIV visas, evidence of arrival date, and your green card (if you’ve received it). The resettlement agency will confirm your eligibility for benefits.

Q: What kind of Department of State benefits would I be eligible for?

A: The Department of State has established guidelines for Reception and Placement Program service providers it funds to provide resettlement services to refugees and eligible SIV recipients. Those eligible to receive services will be assigned to one of these agencies located in or near the place where they are settled. The resettlement agency will assist the beneficiary do the following things:

  • Apply for a social security card (you must have one to get a job);
  • Learn about and be referred to employment services;
  • Enroll children in school;
  • Learn to use public transportation;
  • Find English language classes;
  • Learn about U.S customs and law;
  • Learn about and be referred to community services that can help you, including social services, cash and medical assistance, and food stamps, if necessary; and
  • Find out about other government services and programs and how to apply.

Q: Are there any other benefits available to Iraqi and Afghan SIV recipients?

A: Regardless of whether those Iraqi and Afghan SIV recipients who were admitted to the U.S after December 27, 2007 choose to participate in the Department of State resettlement program, they are also eligible for benefits and services funded by the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement including Refugee Cash and Medical Assistance and Refugee Social Services. These federally funded programs provide a variety of services and have strict time limits and guidelines for participation. Iraqi recipients of SIVs are eligible for up to eight months of these benefits and services, beginning on their date of admission to the United States. Afghan recipients of SIVs are eligible for up to six months of these benefits and services, beginning on their date of admission to the United States. You can find additional information about these benefits by visiting the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement web site at http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr.


Released on February 29, 2008

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